Lagarde – another IMF scandal in the making?

Put Friday 10th June in your calendar. Not just because it’s the closing date for nominations for IMF MD candidates. But also because, in one of those coincidences of fate that seem too delicious to be purely accidental, it’s also the deadline for the French legal system to decide whether to launch a full scale investigation into Christine Lagarde over allegations of abuse of office.

The charges and backstory are a bit complicated – and I’ll do my best to explain it in a moment – but here’s the thing. We could end up in the farcical situation where the leading candidate for IMF head is defending herself against charges that could land her in prison for up to five years – coincidentally also the length of the IMF MD’s term of office.

You have to love the short-sighted European leaders who are pushing her forward – not caring about the damage caused by trampling roughshod over past commitments to fair, open processes, they seem determined to add a high stakes gamble for a two-in-a -row shot at French IMF heads booted out in the same year. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

What are the charges? It all stems from fifteen year legal dispute between flamboyant former Adidas head and French Socialist Party Minister, Bernard Tapie and the government. Tapie accused the Credit Lyonnais bank of diddling him when handling the sale of Adidas in 1993. As the bank subsequently went bust and the assets were taken over by a state-owned company, his claim ended up being against the French government. Enter Christine Lagarde.

In 2007 minister Lagarde intervened and ordered the setting up a special panel of judges to arbitrate – they deliberated behind closed doors and decided Tapie should get €285 million from the state.

On May 11th this year, Jean Louis Nadal, grandly titled Procureur Général (public prosecutor) of France decided that this was a bit suspicious. Better than that, he said there were a “number of reasons to suspect the regularity and even the legality” of the decision, which might constitute an “abuse of authority”. So he passed the file onto the Cour de Justice de la République (Court of Justice).

The Court will make a decision about whether to take the investigation further on 10th June – let’s hope the rest of the world has got its act together and drummed up a decent alternative candidate to Lagarde by then, or farce could descend into shambles. I’m in Paris at the moment and this angle is all over the French press, but it seems to have been barely mentioned in English language media. It may not be long before that silence ends.

5 thoughts on “Lagarde – another IMF scandal in the making?

  1. maku,
    przypominającym z większym natężeniem zamorskie paskuda, niż wulgarnego konia.

    W miejsce injured (Zachery) zbrojnej asysty prawidłowiej sterczałoby dysponować
    sobą jak zwykle własne wozy wyładowane sprzętem przeciwsmokowym, rzadk.


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