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I M F Chief Christine Lagarde To Be Investigated Over Controversial Financial Deal With Tycoon

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Poison chalice?

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde is to be investigated for financial sleaze, Paris judges ruled today.

In a decision which will have worldwide repercussions, the Court of Justice of the Republic said on Thursday that the 55-year-old may have abused her position as a Finance Minister in France to help a controversial businessman.

Ms Lagarde is said to have awarded the equivalent of some £270m to Bernard Tapie, a convicted football match fixer and tax dodger who supported her governing UMP party.

It comes after Dominque Strauss-Kahn, another senior French politician, was sacked as IMF (Berlin: MXG1.BE - news) chief following allegations that he raped a chambermaid in a New York (Xetra: A0DKRK - news) hotel earlier this year.

The hugely ambitious Ms Lagarde began campaigning to succeed Strauss-Kahn soon after his arrest for a crime which could still land him 25 years in prison.

But now it is Ms Lagarde, a lawyer and retired synchronised swimming star, who is facing a criminal trial of her own, as well as a possible jail sentence.

The scandal will not only pile further shame on France’s political class, but worry politicians and bankers desperately trying to resolve the global financial crisis.

Mr Tapie, the former head of Adidas (EUREX: 59053.EX - news) in France, claims he was cheated out of millions by Credit Lyonnais bank when the sports kit empire was sold in 1993.

In 2007, Ms Largarde ended the epic dispute by ordering a panel of judges to arbitrate and, in turn, they awarded Tapie the 270million pounds in damages.

Opposition MPs were furious, with former presidential candidate Francois Bayrou accusing Ms Lagarde of ‘dipping into the taxpayers’ pocket for a private beneficiary.’

Strauss-Kahn’s Socialist Party also accused Ms Lagarde of improper conduct, pointing to the fact that Tapie was a vocal supporter of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP.

Ms Lagarde’s IMF's top job was endorsed by the British government, which indicated she was preferred to former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown.

The Washington DC-based IMF - which provides loans to countries suffering financial problems will now have to make a decision on her long-term future.

Ms Lagarde's lawyer, Yves Repiquet, said the enquiry was ‘in no way incompatible’ with her new job, and expected the case to be dismissed.

Ms Lagarde denies any wrong-doing, saying before today’s judgement: ‘If it’s decided to continue with this enquiry it won’t be particularly surprising. Personally, it doesn’t worry me at all…I didn’t benefit personally’.

The Court of Justice of the Republic is a special tribunal qualified to judge the conduct of France’s government ministers while in office.


Edited by Redhat Sly

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Is she being DSK'ed?

That's a possibility... another possibility is that the same underworld individuals who were (allegedly) behind setting up DSK (as far as I'm aware, he still protests absolute innocence...) are somehow also directly involved in setting up Lagarde as a puppet... perhaps one they thought they could control with threats of exposing past shady deals.

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Wasn't this issue known about before she was appointed and yet the idiots in charge still appointed her?

They might as well just appoint Madoff.

Or what about Nick Leeson?

Nick Leeson was screewed over.

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Christine Lagarde is pulled . . .

in for questioning.

In Court In Paris Today

Christine Lagarde's future at IMF in balance over arbitration payment

Christine Lagarde’s future as International Monetary Fund chief hung in the balance today as a Paris court grilled her over a 403 million-euro state payout to a disgraced tycoon while she was French finance minister.

Prosecutors working for the The Court of Justice of the Republic suspect the arbitration was payback for supporting Mr Sarkozy in the 2007 presidential election.

They have suggested Miss Lagarde was partly responsible for "numerous anomalies and irregularities" which could lead to charges for “complicity in fraud and misappropriation of public funds”.

We shall soon see.

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