Oh joy, it’s Schadenfreude Day!
IMF head Christine Lagarde is being investigated in connection with possible fraud for her role, as Finance Minister, in a convoluted series of events stemming from a €400 lawsuit which was decided in favour of Adidas head Bernard Tapie. The French taxpayers wrote the check to the aggrieved billionaire.
Don’t break out the Pinko Champagne just yet. She was not a subject of investigation, just a witness, and this investigation now is only into “negligence” in her testimony, not actual graft.
The case itself goes back to a dispute about whether Tapie was ripped off by Crédit Lyonnais over the 1993 Adidas sale. He subsequently and very expensively supported Lagarde’s boy Sarkozy in the presidential race in 2007. Lagarde was the Finance Minister who sent the Adidas case to arbitration, and the judgement was extraordinarily rich.
The question is, was this Lagarde-ordered payback for his support of Sarkozy?
Lagarde told journalists, “After three years of investigations, dozens of hours of questioning, the commission realised that I was not complicit in any violation and has therefore been reduced to allege that I may not have been sufficiently vigilant in the arbitration.”
If found guilty of the charge of negligence, she could be on the hook for one year in prison and a fine of up to €15,000. For Lagarde, who earns $467,940 a year (plus expense account) tax-free, the fine will not present a challenge; the year as a guest of the French government, however, might be a little stickier.