IMF Board Supports Lagarde After Home Searched in Tapie Case

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, whose Paris apartment was searched by police March 20 in a case involving businessman Bernard Tapie, retains the backing of the board of directors, an IMF spokesman said.

“The executive board has been briefed on this matter, including recently, and continues to express its confidence in the managing director’s ability to effectively carry out her duties,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters in Washington today.

The inquiry focuses on arbitration that awarded almost $500 million to Tapie, a supporter of former President Nicolas Sarkozy. The Cour de Justice de la Republique, which investigates ministers’ actions in office, is looking into whether Lagarde, a onetime finance minister under Sarkozy, erred in agreeing to arbitration to end the dispute involving Tapie.

Lagarde “considers that this will enable to establish the truth and will ultimately lead to the termination of all investigations,” Yves Repiquet, her lawyer, said in a statement on the day of the raid.

Tapie, who has also dabbled in politics and acting, in 2008 won the 385 million euro ($494 million) arbitration award to settle a dispute over his company’s sale of German sportswear brand Adidas AG. He contended that the bank Credit Lyonnais mishandled the 1993 sale.

When Lagarde took over the IMF, the institution was reeling from the arrest of former chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on charges including attempted rape of a hotel maid in New York. The charges were later dropped and he settled the maid’s lawsuit last year.

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.”