International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said she will be heard in May by a court in relation to her decision on a case involving businessman Bernard Tapie when she was French finance minister.
The Cour de Justice de la Republique, which investigates ministers’ actions in office, is looking into whether Lagarde erred in agreeing to an arbitration to end a dispute with businessman Tapie, a supporter of former President Nicolas Sarkozy.
“There is nothing new under the sun,” Lagarde, who denies wrongdoing, told journalists today in Washington. “Ever since 2011 I have known very well that I would be heard by the investigating commission of the Cour de Justice.”
Tapie won a 385 million euro ($503 million) arbitration award to settle a dispute over his company’s sale of German sportswear brand Adidas AG. Tapie claimed Credit Lyonnais mishandled the 1993 sale and pursued a claim against the formerly state-owned bank’s liquidator.
“The hearing will be Madame Lagarde’s first opportunity to provide the investigative commission with information that will demonstrate that there is no basis to find fault with her actions,” Yves Repiquet, her lawyer, said in a statement.
The court opened its investigation into whether there was “complicity in forgery” or “complicity in misuse of public funds” in the case in 2011, soon after Lagarde became IMF head.
The longest-serving finance minister of France since the 1970s, Lagarde has stood by her decision in the Tapie case, saying in an interview broadcast by France 2 television on Jan. 25 that “it was the best solution at the time and I think it was the right choice.”