French court orders probe into IMF Chief Lagarde
IMF chief Christine Lagarde is tasked with drawing a line under the Strauss-Kahn scandal.
Paris: France's public prosecutor had recommended the Court of Justice of the Republic, a special tribunal that can judge ministers, order an investigation, following a request from opposition Socialist Party politicians.
The court had been due to rule in June, as Lagarde was bidding for the IMF job, but asked for more time to weigh its decision.
"We have come out in favour of an investigation concerning Madame Lagarde," court official Gerard Palisse said, after the court met for several hours to examine the results of a preliminary judicial review.
Yves Repiquet, a lawyer for Lagarde, told France's BFM TV that Lagarde had received the news calmly and even with relief, after months of speculation over whether a complaint brought by the Socialists would end up in an investigation.
"This procedure is in no way incompatible with the current functions of the managing director of the IMF," Repiquet said in a statement.
He said Lagarde had acted perfectly legally in letting the Tapie case be settled by arbitration.
Lagarde, 55, is tasked with drawing a line under the Strauss-Kahn scandal, but she now faces the discomfort of being called for lengthy questioning by investigating judges.
"An investigation could take a very long time, one could expect it to take several years as there would be a lot of witnesses to interview, among them Madame Lagarde, who could also be investigated as a suspect," Virginie Duval, general secretary of France's USM magistrates union, told Reuters television.
Lagarde is accused of overruling objections from advisers to settle the case with Tapie, who said Credit Lyonnais bank had defrauded him in the 1993 sale of his stake in sports clothing group Adidas.
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