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France

French court overturns 403-million-euro payout to tycoon Tapie

media Bernard Tapie, July, 2013. Dufour / Reuters

The Paris court of appeal on Tuesday overturned a controversial 2008 decision to award 403 million euros to high-profile French businessman Bernard Tapie, who might now be asked to repay the money.

After an arbitration procedure during the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy, a long-running legal fight between Tapie and the now defunct Crédit Lyonnais bank resulted in the 403 million payment to Tapie.

But the state-run body in charge of settling Crédit Lyonnais’ debts launched an appeal in 2013.

Six people, including Tapie, his lawyer Maurice Lantourne and judge Pierre Estoup, are now under investigation on allegations of organised fraud relating to the arbitration.

Investigators claim that the arbitration panel was not objective because Tapie, Lantourne and Estoup were concealing a long-standing friendship, although Tapie denies this.

The arbitration was an attempt to end a lengthy and costly legal dispute between Tapie and Crédit Lyonnais.

Tapie sued the bank because they handled the sale of Adidas which he sold in 1993-4, and he maintained they had sold Adidas for too little.

IMF Director General Christine Lagarde has been linked to the affair because she was finance minister during the Sarkozy presidency when the arbitration was settled.

She has been placed under formal investigation, accused of negligence for failing to challenge the award which hugely benefited Tapie but was expensive for the French state.

There have been accusations that Sarkozy wanted the matter settled in favour of Tapie, who had expressed support for him.

The state-run body in charge of settling Crédit Lyonnais’ debts only decided to appeal against the arbitration award once President Hollande came to power.
 

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