IMF's Lagarde to stand trial in Tapie case
By Chine Labbé
PARIS (Reuters) - France's highest appeals court ruled on Friday that International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde must stand trial for her role in a 400 million euros ($440 million) state payout in 2008 to businessman Bernard Tapie.
She was French finance minister at the time when she signed off on the decision to seek a extremely rare out-of-court settlement in a dispute between the state and Tapie, costing tax-payers dearly.
The court rejected her appeal against a judge's order in December for her to stand trial at the Cour de Justice de la Republique, a special court that tries ministers for crimes in office.
The trial will be only be the fifth in the history of the tribunal, which is made up of three judges and six lawmakers from both the lower and upper houses of parliament.
Her case may go to trial before the before the end of the year if a date can be found that suits all of the judges and lawmakers, a judicial source said.
Her lawyer Patrick Maisonneuve expressed regret over the decision and said he was convinced that the trial would show she was innocent.
IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said that its executive board had been briefed on the matter and continued to have confidence in Lagarde's capacity to carry out her functions.
Lagarde is accused of negligence with the result that public funds were misused by improperly approving the decision to allow an out-of-court arbitration in the dispute with Tapie, a supporter of conservative former president Nicolas Sarkozy. Continued...