French tycoon Tapie charged in corruption probe
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French business mogul Bernard Tapie was charged Friday in a corruption inquiry over a massive state payout to him, according to his lawyer. Tapie, 70, who has been held in custody since Monday, is a lively member of the country’s business elite and has close ties to former president Nicolas Sarkozy.
The multi-decade scandal dating back to his 1993 sale of sports group Adidas also implicated IMF chief Christine Lagarde.
Tapie has been charged with fraud as part of an organised gang in connection with a 400-million-euro state payout he received in 2008 when Lagarde was France’s finance minister.
Investigations are currently underway to find out whether close ties between Tapie and members of Sarkozy’s cohort influenced the government’s decision to turn to a private arbitration tribunal to resolve his protracted dispute with now-defunct bank Credit Lyonnais.
Three people have been charged over the scandal since May, including Stéphane Richard, the head of telecommunications giant Orange.
Lagarde was questioned for two days in May about her role in the affair, but she has not been placed under formal investigation.
Socialist President François Hollande, who took office last year, vowed to do away with unfair advantages for the wealthy and well-connected.
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