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French police search IMF chief Lagarde's home over Tapie probe
Xinhua | March 21, 2013 09:03
By Agencies
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French police searched the home of IMF chief Christine Lagarde in Paris on Wednesday in an investigation into her handling of a scandal involving tycoon Bernard Tapie years ago.

The search came as the head of International Montary Fund (IMF) is doubted for her role in a 400-million-US dollar arbitration in favor of French magnate Tapie.

Lagarde's lawyer Yves Repiquet confirmed the search of her home. He spoke to the press that his client has nothing to hide and the probe search will prove her innocence.

The investigation focuses on the decision made by IMF director, who in 2008 as then-France's finance minister under Nicolar Sarkozy's administration, chose to order a panel of judges to settle by arbitration a legal dispute between businessman Tapie and the state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais over the mishandled sale of sports company Adidas in 1993.

The arbitration resulted in Tapie winning 285-million-euro (367-million-dollar) payment (plus interest, totalling 400 million dollars) from Credit Lyonnais.

Lagarde was suspected of complicity in embezzling public funds after she was accused of overruling objections from advisers over the setting of the controversial case with Tapie.

However, the IMF chief denied any wrongdoing for approving the 400-million-dollar payout to Tapie.

"It (the arbitration) was the best solution at the time and I believe I made the right choice," she once claimed in a TV program in January during the World Economic Forum in Davos, adding that she would cooperate with the authorities if and when needed to do so.

The International Monetary Fund made no comment Wednesday over French police's raid on Lagarde's home.

"It would not be appropriate to comment on a case that has been and is currently before the French judiciary," the IMF said in a statement, but confirming that the issue had been discussed before Lagarde took over the post from its resigned-director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and the organization believes that "Madame Lagarde would be able to effectively carry out her duties as Managing Director," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said.

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