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IMF chief grilled in French corruption case

PARIS - The head of the International Monetary Fund faced a fourth round of questioning on Tuesday over a multi-million-euro corruption case relating to her time as French finance minister in 2008.


Christine Lagarde made no comment to reporters as she entered the Court of Justice of the Republic-a special court that probes cases of ministerial misconduct but has previously denied any wrongdoing. The case relates to her handling of a 400-million-euro state payout to disgraced French tycoon Bernard Tapie in 2008.


The payout was connected to a dispute between the businessman and partly state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais over his 1993 sale of sportswear group Adidas. Tapie claimed that Credit Lyonnais had defrauded him by intentionally undervaluing Adidas at the time of the sale and that the state, as the bank's principal shareholder, should compensate him.


Lagarde referred the dispute to a three-member arbitration panel that ruled in favour of Tapie, who is suspected of receiving favourable treatment in return for supporting ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2007 election. The IMF chief, one of the world's most powerful women, said in March after she faced a third grilling that she had “always acted in the interest of the country and in accordance with the law.”


She avoided formal charges last year that could have forced her to quit as head of the International Monetary Fund, instead, she was placed under a special witness status that forces her to come back for questioning when asked by the court and leaves the door open for charges at a later date.


Five people have been charged in the case, including Stephane Richard, then Lagarde's chief of staff, now boss of Telecoms Giant Orange.

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