New evidence surfaces in French business tycoon's fraud probe

(Photo : AFP)

New evidence has emerged in the French business tycoon Bernard Tapie’s fraud probe that could prove claims of organised fraud.


Background reading: Previous French scandals

According to Le Monde, Tapie’s lawyer Maurice Lantourne corresponded with former judge Pierre Estoup twice in the beginning of September 2006, almost two years before Estoup granted Tapie a 403 million euro arbitration payment as one of the three judges of the arbitration tribunal that presided over the case.

In the letters, the two men explicitly discussed Tapie’s row with the formerly state-owned French bank Crédit Lyonnais over Tapie’s 1993 share sale of the sportswear company, according to Le Monde’s exclusive report.

Lantourne and Estoup previously said they had never spoken about this matter before the arbitration process started.

He was charged with fraud at the end of June in an ongoing case that also implicated International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde.

Tapie, who backed Nicolas Sarkozy in the last two elections, claimed that the bank defrauded him by intentionally undervaluing Adidas and argued that the state – as the bank’s majority shareholder – should compensate him.

Judges Serge Tournaire, Guillaume Daieff and Claire Thépaut obtained the letters in the beginning of July when they searched the law firm Fried Frank, where Lantourne worked from 2006 to 2009.

Maitre Lantourne received 2.5 million euros in fees while Mr Estoup, earned 300,000 euros as an arbitrator.



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