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Prosecution says against convicting IMF’s Lagarde at trial


Christine Lagarde, PHOTO:AFP

Christine Lagarde, PHOTO:AFP

The prosecutor acting in IMF boss Christine Lagarde’s trial in Paris said Thursday he was against convicting her, judging the evidence to support the charge of negligence as too weak.

“The hearings have not backed up a very weak charge,” Jean-Claude Marin told the court, repeating the view of the prosecutor’s office which had advised against bringing the case to trial.

Magistrates at the Court of Justice of the Republic, a tribunal that hears cases against ministers, overlooked this recommendation last year and decided to proceed with the case.

The trial started on Monday and has seen Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), quizzed about a state payout she authorised for tycoon Bernard Tapie.

In her role as finance minister in 2008, Lagarde stands accused of waving through a 404-million-euro settlement with Tapie, a businessman close to her then boss, ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy.

She has been charged with negligence over the payout, which was set in an arbitration process and has subsequently been cancelled by courts and reduced to zero.

Tapie sued after losing control of the Adidas sports brand in 1993 when he went bankrupt.

He sold it to state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais for 315.5 million euros in 1993. The bank sold it again the year after for 701 million euros, leading Tapie to claim he had been cheated.

Lagarde has been in court every day and has been grilled about why she failed to contest or appeal what the chief judge has described as a “colossal” draw on state resources.

The 60-year-old defendant has said she trusted the judgement of her subordinates on the process and she was out of the loop for some negotiations in the ministry and in the president’s office.

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