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French tycoon Bernard Tapie says he's "ruined" after being sued 400 million euros

media Bernard Tapie during a press conference at the regional newspaper La Provence, which he owns. Taken in the south of France, March 12 2014 AFP PHOTO / FRANCK PENNANT

French tycoon Bernard Tapie was left reeling on Friday after a Paris Appeals Court ordered he repay the government nearly 405 million euros that he received in compensation in 2008. The businessman denies ever receiving the payout--claiming instead that he was cheated by his bank Credit Lyonnais. The businessman says he'll be made bankrupt if forced to cough up the astronomic sum.

The Bernard Tapie affair began twenty years ago --- the fact that it's still grabbing headlines today highlights the long-winded nature of arbitration.

The dispute involves French business tycoon Bernard Tapie and his former bank Credit Lyonnais, over the sale of Adidas, the sports equipment company, which he used to own.

Tapie has always alleged that the bank cheated him by undervaluing Adidas when he sold the company in 1993 and then selling it on for profit. As Credit Lyonnais was a state-owned company, the government was also accused of wrongdoing.

In 2008, an arbitration panel ruled in Tapie's favour; and ordered the state to pay him back 404 million euros.

But on Thursday, a Paris Appeals Court decided that the businessman had not been cheated by Credit Lyonnais, and ordered him to pay back all the compensation money.

Tapie however contests he ever received the 404 million euros.

"The Bernard Tapie Group received exactly 245 million euros," he told French newspaper Le Monde. I personally received 45 million, and I gave half of it to my wife," he said. "Of the remaining 22 million euros, I gave 20 of it to my newspaper La Provence. It is outrageous for the courts to expect me to pay back astronomic sums that I never even received!" he insisted.

The 72 year old--who started his career as a singer, before making a fortune in business, then politics and finally football as manager of football team Olympique Marseille, says the Appeal Court's decision has "knocked him out".

His lawyers have already announced that they'll lodge a new appeal.

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