PARIS, July 22 (UPI) — Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, will stand trial for her alleged role in a $441 million payout to a businessman while she was France’s finance minister, an appeals court ruled Friday.
Lagarde, 60, is accused of negligence for her role in the alleged misuse of public funds in 2007 when she signed off on a decision to settle a dispute between French tycoon Bernard Tapie and the state, known as “L’Affaire Tapie.” Lagarde has repeatedly said she did nothing wrong and acted in the public interest.
She is facing a one-year prison sentence and a $16,000 fine.
The case centers on the payment made to Tapie in 2008 after he said he was defrauded by the now-defunct state-owned Credit Lyonnais bank. Tapie said the bank encouraged him to sell his stake in the sporting-goods company Adidas for less than what it was worth in 1993. A Paris court canceled the arbitration and ordered Tapie to repay the funds. He is appealing the decision.
The IMF would not comment directly on the appeals court ruling but said it stands behind Lagarde, who recently began her second term as managing director.
“The executive board has been briefed on recent developments related to the matter, and continues to express its confidence in the managing director’s ability to effectively carry out her duties,” the fund’s communications director Gerry Rice said.