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“In this case, like in all the other cases, I acted with trust and with a clear conscience with the only intention of defending the public interest.” The case surrounded the decision to allow a dispute over Bernard Tapie’s sale of Adidas to Crédit Lyonnais bank to be resolved by a rarely-used private arbitration panel – instead of the courts.
Investigators suspected the payment to 73-year-old Mr Tapie was the result of a behind closed doors agreement with then-President Mr Sarkozy in return for election support.
IMF managing director Ms Lagarde was suspected of rubber stamping a deal to effectively buy off the business magnate with taxpayers’ money.
Civil courts have since quashed the unusually generous award, declared the arbitration process and deal fraudulent, and ordered Mr Tapie to pay the money back. Even the trial’s chief prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin said the accusation was “very weak” and warned of confusion between “criminal negligence” and a “bad political decision”. And I will strive to convince you allegation by allegation.” Her lawyer Patrick Maisonneuve said on Europe-1 radio that Ms Lagarde was just following instructions from her administration and did not have time to read all 15 years of legal files on the case.
The ruling, however, risks triggering a new leadership crisis at the IMF after Ms Lagarde’s predecessor Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned in 2011 over a sex assault scandal.
Ms Lagarde, who was French finance minister at the time of the payment in 2008, has denied the negligence charges.
The guard also keeps Saudi Arabia’s many tribes in lockstep through an ancient system of patronage. Prince Miteb was removed as head of the guard and allegedly detained.
“The political system is becoming more autocratic because you are seeing more centralisation of power, and you are seeing a crackdown on opposition and tightening of restrictions on free speech,” she said.Her lawyer said immediately after the ruling that his team would look into appealing the decision.On Friday she told the court: “These five days [of trial] put an end to a five-year ordeal for my partner, my sons, my brothers, who are here in this courtroom.At the start of proceedings, the £355,000-a-year boss, of the global Washington-based institution, said: “I would like to show you that I am in no way guilty of negligence, but rather that I acted in good faith with only the public interest in mind. Ms Lagarde was only the fifth to be held before the Cour de Justice de la République since its inception in 1993.IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said after Monday’s verdict that its executive board would meet soon “to consider the most recent developments”.
The sweep, which the government says is aimed at eliminating corruption, also appears to be aimed at stamping out potential rivals or critics of Prince Mohammed, popularly known as “MBS” and the son of King Salman.