The current French head of the IMF Christine Lagarde has said today that she has no intention of resigning her post at the top of the International Monetary Fund despite being indicted in the Bernad Tapie/Crédit Lyonnais case
Christine Lagarde was indicted for “negligence” in the inquiry into her arbitration role between businessman Bernard Tapie and Crédit Lyonnais bank. She does not intend to resign from the IMF, saying that she intends to “return to work in Washington starting this afternoon.”
When asked if she intended resigning her post in light of the development, the former French Minister for the Economy replied: “Non…. I’m going back to work in Washington starting this afternoon.” Her fate now depends on the Council of Administration of the IMF.
Up to now the IMF has offered its continued support to Mme Lagarde. But a formal accusation could change its outlook on her suitability for the post, even if the charge is only “negligence” – carrying with it a possible one year of confinement in prison and a €15,000 fine.
During her tenure as Minister of the French economy, Christine Lagarde had acted as arbitrator in a case between businessman Bernard Tapie and Crédit Lyonnais bank. She has been accused of not having introduced recourse to her decision once her verdict had been given.
Ms Lagarde was questioned on Tuesday for more than 15 hours by magistrates of the Cour de Justice de la République (CJR), making it the only time in French legal history that a member of government has been questioned and charged for incidents that occurred during their time in office.
“The Commission of Instruction of the CJR decided to indict me on the basis of simple negligence,” said Christine Lagarde during an interview in the presence of her lawyer Mr Yves Repiquet.
“After three years of instruction and several hours of hearings, the commission had to conclude that I was not complicit in any infraction of the law and was therefore reduced to alleging that I was not vigilant enough” during the arbitrage in question),” she added.
“I asked my lawyer to exercise every possible recourse against this decision that I consider to be without any foundation,” continued Ms Lagarde.
Christine Lagard, who has always maintained that she acted “in accordance with the law” in this affair, had been placed under the status of “assisted witness” in May 2013 – in French legal terms, a transitional status before being simply witness and being under arrest.Ms Lagarde has always claimed responsibility for the arbitrage and has firmly stood by her decision. She denies having acted on orders from Nicolas Sarkozy, who would have wanted to obtain support from Bernard Tapie. The latter has had a highly colourful and controversial career, having served as leftist minister in the 1990s, as well as having been owner of Olympique de Marseille football club (with whom he was allegedly involved in high-level match-fixing) and Adidas (he bought the German sports clothing manufacturer when they were at their lowest ebb financially).