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IMF chief Lagarde to be investigated over Tapie case

(Xinhua)

09:19, August 05, 2011

French Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) announced Thursday to open an investigation on International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde for her role in settling the case of French tycoon Bernard Tapie in 2008 when she was French economy and finance minister.

The announcement of the decision was postponed twice by CJR, the court in charge of decision on whether ministers can be investigated on crimes committed during their mandate. The nearest delay on July 8 was due to the opposition from a commission member of the decision-making panel.

In May, the General Prosecutor at the Court of Cassation Jean-Louis Nadal submitted a petition to the commission demanding for a probe over Lagarde, suggesting her settlement of Tapie case had elements of "abuse of authority".

"Whether the commission decides to not or to continue the investigation, I have exactly the same confidence and serenity," Lagarde was quoted by local media on July 6, a few days later after she was appointed to head the IMF.

The main opposition Socialist Party accused Lagarde, the first female IMF leader, of abusing her influence as economy minister by ordering an arbitration panel in 2007 to settle the lengthy legal battle between influential businessman Tapie and the bank Credit Lyonnais.

The Tapie case dated back to 1993 when Credit Lyonnais sold Adidas at Tapie's helm, but at a price failed to satisfy the owner who complained cheating in the sale.

The bank, initially a public one, was later incorporated by a state-owned consortium, therefore when in 2008 the arbitration panel ordered 285 million euros (409 million U.S. dollars) in damage paid by the bank to Tapie, the opposition blamed the hasty settlement of the case for shortening the judicial investigation improperly and abusing public money to compensate a private beneficiary.

However, Lagarde has insisted her decision was in line with public interests.

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