– IMF boss Christine Lagarde quizzed by detectives in France over £270million corruption case involving French businessman (Daily Mail, March 19, 2014):
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde was today questioned by judges in Paris over a corruption scandal.
The Court of Justice of the Republic, a special tribunal qualified to judge the conduct of politicians, believe the 57-year-old may have abused her position as finance minister to help a controversial businessman.
Ms Lagarde is said to have allowed the equivalent of some £270million to be awarded to Bernard Tapie, a convicted football match-fixer and tax dodger who supported her governing UMP party.
It came on the day that the legal problems of Ms Lagarde’s former boss, ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, deepened.
New evidence emerged of an alleged attempt by Mr Sarkozy to influence enquiries into his own alleged corruption.
Investigative news website Mediapart published extracts from allegedly taped phone conversations between Sarkozy and his lawyer.
Mr Sarkozy is said to have accepted millions of pounds illegally so as to fund his 2007 election campaign, with the late Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi among his alleged benefactors.
A spokesman for France’s governing Socialist party said the evidence being compiled against Mr Sarkozy was ‘mind boggling’.
The presence of Ms Lagarde in court will not help Mr Sarkozy at all.
Mr Tapie, the former head of Adidas in France, claims he was cheated out of millions by Credit Lyonnais bank when the sports kit empire was sold in 1993.
In 2007, Ms Largarde ended the epic dispute by ordering a panel of judges to arbitrate and, in turn, they awarded Tapie the damages.
Opposition MPs were furious, with former presidential candidate Francois Bayrou accusing Ms Lagarde of ‘dipping into the taxpayers’ pocket for a private beneficiary.’
The Socialist Party also accused Ms Lagarde of improper conduct, pointing to the fact that Mr Tapie was a vocal supporter of President Sarkozy’s ruling UMP.
Ms Lagarde, a former synchronised swimming champion, has denied any wrongdoing, saying: ‘If it’s decided to continue with this inquiry it won’t be particularly surprising. Personally, it doesn’t worry me at all – I didn’t benefit personally’.