- Title: IMF's Lagarde says she was not negligent in payout to French magnate
- Date: 13th December 2016
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (DECEMBER 13, 2016) (REUTERS) ****WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** EXTERIOR OF PALAIS DE JUSTICE EXTERIOR OF COURTROOM SIGN ON DOOR READING (French): "COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE REPUBLIC" PARIS, FRANCE (DECEMBER 12, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (IMF) MANAGING DIRECTOR, CHRISTINE LAGARDE, STANDING IN COURTROOM SURROUNDED BY JOURNALISTS AND POLICE LAGARDE BEING PHOTOGRAPHED PARIS, FRANCE (DECEMBER 13, 2016) (REUTERS) COURTROOM, AND A CAMERA IN FOREGROUND PEOPLE WALKING IN JUSTICE PALACE JUSTICE REUTERS CORRESPONDANT, CHINE LABBE, OUTSIDE COURTROOM (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS' JUSTICE CORRESPONDANT, CHINE LABBE, SAYING: "Today, she seemed to struggle to convince judges that she had not committed any negligence in signing off a state payout in 2008 to businessman Bernard Tapie. The head judge in particular quizzed her about a 45-millions-euros indemnity included in the package in the settlement. She noted that for the loss of a child, the indemnities can only go up to 50,000 euros and said 'That's a gut in the punch (sic), isn't it? Shouldn't that have made you react?' And Lagarde said, 'Well, you know, that was not the only thing on my plate at the time,' but she really did not seem to convince the court." PEOPLE WALKING IN JUSTICE PALACE MAIN ENTRANCE EXTERIOR OF COURTROOM LAWYER FOR DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE IMF CHRISTINE LAGARDE, PATRICK MAISONNEUVE, ON PHONE (SOUNDBITE) (French) LAWYER FOR DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE IMF CHRISTINE LAGARDE, PATRICK MAISONNEUVE, SAYING: "Let's imagine for a minute, that Ms. Lagarde was Minister for Economy, Finance, Industry and Employment. She ran a particularly large ministry and consequently, everyday she had an activity, whether it was National Assembly, or Brussels on the international front, her activities as minister. Consequently, she could not focus full time-- it's normal, we can understand that -- on a case, even if it was the one on Adidas-Tapie." SIGN ON COURTROOM READING (French): "First court" (SOUNDBITE) (French) LAWYER FOR DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE IMF CHRISTINE LAGARDE, PATRICK MAISONNEUVE, SAYING: "Of course she disagreed with the decision of the arbitration ruling, but she decided to do it because these proceedings had to cease and she had to weigh the chances that the appeal would succeed. Would it have meant to trigger a procedure that would have lasted for 10 more years? If someone would have told her that the appeal was going to succeed, she would have followed the jurists' recommendation, but she has been told the opposite, hence she had taken this decision not to contest the ruling." EXTERIOR OF JUSTICE PALACE
- Embargoed: 28th December 2016 14:26
- Keywords: Christine Lagarde IMF trial arbitration Bernard Tapie Adidas minister damages
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Reuters ID: LVA0015CPWTVR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde sought on Tuesday (December13) to convince judges she was not negligent in signing off on a 400 million euro ($425 million) French state payout to a business tycoon in 2008.
Lagarde, 60, is fighting charges of negligence leading to the misuse of public funds when she approved, while finance minister, a rare out-of-court settlement with magnate Bernard Tapie in a long-running dispute.
"Today, she seemed to struggle to convince judges that she had not committed any negligence in signing of state payout in 2008 to businessman Bernard Tapie," Reuters Paris' justice correspondent, Chine Labbe, who was one of the few journalists allowed to listen to the court proceedings.
The head judge, Martine Ract Madoux, quizzed Lagarde about why in particular she did not ask more questions about 45 million euros in damages included in the settlement while the original approval to seek arbitration did not cover damages.
"It's a punch in the gut, doesn't that make you react?" Madoux said on the second day of the trial, comparing the order to pay Tapie damages to the 30,000-50,000 euros that parents usually receive in compensation for the death of a child.
"Lagarde said that 'well you know it was not the only thing on my plate at the time,' and that really didn't seem to convince the court," Labbe said.
Lagarde insisted she had been "shocked, surprised, stunned" by the arbitration ruling, but also said the case was far from the only pressing matter to deal with as the global financial crisis erupted.
Her lawyer Patrick Maisonneuve, said that Lagarde a "wide" ministerial portfolio at the time "even if it was the one on Adidas-Tapie," he told reporters outside the courtroom.
"My obsession at the time was to get through the financial crisis that was threatening us," she told the court, adding that she decided not to contest the ruling to stop legal fees from soaring further, and to draw a line under the 15-year dispute.
Lagarde risks up to a year in jail and a fine of 15,000 euros ($15,895) if convicted.
The case is being heard before a special court for trying cabinet ministers. The court comprises a panel of 15 judges, including 12 lawmakers from both the lower and upper houses of parliament.
The trial is scheduled to run until Dec.20.
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