Reuters — France’s highest appeals court ruled on Friday that International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde must stand trial for her role in a 400 million euros state payout in 2008 to businessman Bernard Tapie.
She was French finance minister at the time when she signed off on the decision to seek an extremely rare out-of-court settlement in a dispute between the state and Tapie, costing tax-payers dearly.
The court rejected her appeal against a judge’s order in December for her to stand trial at the Cour de Justice de la Republique, a special court that tries ministers for crimes in office.
The trial will be only be the fifth in the history of the tribunal, which is made up of three judges and six lawmakers from both the lower and upper houses of parliament.
Her lawyer Patrick Maisonneuve expressed regret over the decision and said he was convinced that the trial would show she was innocent.
The case goes back to when Tapie sued the state for compensation after selling his stake in sports company Adidas to Credit Lyonnais in 1993. He claimed the bank had defrauded him after it later resold his stake for a much higher sum.
Lagarde is accused of negligence with the result that public funds were misused by improperly approving the decision to allow an out-of-court arbitration in the dispute with Tapie, a supporter of conservative former president Nicolas Sarkozy.
IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said that its executive board had been briefed on the matter and continued to have confidence in Lagarde’s capacity to carry out her functions.