Today French Courts ordered an investigation into International Money Fund (IMF) Chief Christine Lagarde’s into her role in the awarding of a $400 million deal to a controversial business man Bernard Tapie. The investigation will look into allegations of complicity to embezzlement of public funds and complicity to forgery.
Bernard Tapie won a court settlement in 2008 against a French state owned bank over a mishandled sale of popular sportswear maker brand Adidas from back in the 1990’s. Christine Lagarde was then France’s finance minister and has been criticized for the $400 million deal, with many saying it was a much too large of a deal and could be equated as robbery from the tax payers of France.
The investigation on Christine Lagarde is stemming from France’s Court of Justice of the Republic, which primarily deals with cases involving government ministers and higher level government officials. The probe into Lagarde’s role in the arbitration deal is expected to take months, and may not necessarily result in a trial, however as Christine Lagarde just took over as head of the International Monetary Fund, replacing Dominique Strauss-Kahn who was pressured to resign over investigations of possible rape, the extra negative attention to Lagarde will add to the controversy.
While still in initial stages, were they to officially press charges on Christine Lagarde, they could begin questioning her and putting more pressure on the new IMF chief. In the event of her being found guilty of these charges, she could face up to ten years in jail.
Yves Repiquet, Christine Lagarde’s lawyer does not seem worried though. He “welcomes” the investigation saying his client welcomes it too, as it will lead to a true conclusion that removes all hints of doubt of Lagarde’s innocence.
Officials in the International Monetary Fund new of the allegations before her appointment, but went ahead and went on with her nomination, believing there was little behind the allegations, still these are big charges against the IMF Chief. The IMF further said they are confident she will still be able to perform her duties as the investigation continues.