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French court set to charge IMF chief Lagarde, report

IMF boss Christine Lagarde in New York last monthl
IMF boss Christine Lagarde in New York last monthl Reuters/Brendan McDermid

A French court is likely to charge IMF boss Christine Lagarde with complicity in fraud and embezzlement of public funds, according to Le Monde newspaper. If indicted, Lagarde would not be obliged to resign but would come under pressure to do so.

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Lagarde is due to appear before magistrates on Thursday and Friday and, according to Le Monde, they are looking to indict her over her role in a deal that led to businessman and politician Bernard Tapie being handed 403 million euros in a dispute with partly state-owned bank Crédit Lyonnais.

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But she could simply be cited as a witness but warned to bring a lawyer in case she incriminates herself.

Tapie has accused the Socialist government of “manipulating” the legal system to take action against Lagarde, who was finance minister under former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

The case centres on suspicions that he received favourable treatment in return for promises to support Sarkozy’s presidential bid.

Nothing in Lagarde’s contract with the IMF would force her to resign if charged.

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But after the fall from grace of Lagarde’s predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the organisation inserted a clause obliging the managing director to “strive to avoid even the appearance of impropriety in your conduct”.

Lagarde insists that she is innocent of all wrongdoing.

The Socialist government has told her that it supports her staying on at the IMF, according to Le Monde, which claims that President François Hollande met her at the Elysée presidential palace in March to tell her so.

“Mme Lagarde has the total confidence of the French authorities in her function as head of the IMF,” current Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici has said.

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