Acted in France’s interests: Lagarde

Paris: An emotional Christine Lagarde told her trial for negligence on Friday she acted in good faith in approving a massive state payout to a tycoon when she was French finance minister.
On the last day of her trial in a Paris court, the IMF chief insisted she did no wrong in authorising the 404 million euro payment to Bernard Tapie to settle a long-running dispute between the businessman and the state.
At issue is Lagarde’s decision to allow the dispute to be resolved by arbitration and her later failure to contest the huge award linked to Tapie’s sale of the Adidas sports brand to the state-owned Credit Lyonnais bank.
“In this case, as in all other cases, I acted according to trust and with the knowledge of the facts and my sole aim was to defend the general interest,” Lagarde told the court. “The risk of fraud completely escaped me,” she said.
The Court of Justice of the Republic — a tribunal that hears cases against ministers accused of wrongdoing in office — will give its verdict at 1400 GMT on Monday.
Lagarde, 60, fought back tears as she said the trial was the culmination of a “testing” time for her family.
“These five days of hearings represent the end of five testing years for my partner, my sons and my brothers who are in the courtroom,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion.
If convicted, she could face a year in prison and a 15,000 euro ($16,700) fine.
The case also threatens the credibility of the IMF, as the high-flying former corporate lawyer is the third of the organisation’s chiefs to face trial.
The prosecutor said on Thursday he was opposed to convicting Lagarde, judging the evidence to support the charge of negligence too flimsy. “The hearings have not backed up a very weak charge,” Jean-Claude Marin said. — AFP

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