The sting in the tale of Tapie and the Crédit Lyonnais payout

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Back in business

Tapie, now 68, a brash, twice-fold rags-to-riches tycoon who first found his fortune in the 1980s by buying up bankrupt businesses and selling them off at a profit, was made a minister (for urban affairs) in 1992 under then-President François Mitterrand. It was reportedly at Mitterrand's behest that, to pursue his political career, he decided to sell-off his business interests, and mandated the Crédit Lyonnais to do so.

They were offloaded in a series of complicated financial manouevres involving holding companies, and importantly involved the sale of his controlling stake in Adidas, at the centre of his dispute with the bank; Tapie argued it had secretly defrauded him of the real value of the sale to the late businessman Robert Louis-Dreyfus.

At this same period, Tapie, who made unorthodox wheeler-dealing his personal trademark, became the subject of a number of judicial investigations, forcing his resignation from government in 1993. Tapie was eventually made bankrupt in 1994 by the liabilities on his companies. As the owner and president of Marseille football club, Olympique de Marseille, he was sentenced to a year in prison in 1996 for his role in a 1993 match-fixing scandal.

Barred from business as a bankrupt, stripped of his rights to stand for election in politics and banned from professional football, Tapie bounced back onto the public stage at the end of the 1990s as a TV and film actor while pursuing the case against the Crédit Lyonnais. In 2010, following the controversial 2008 arbitration decision, he won a legal battle to remove his personal responsibility in the 1994 bankruptcy of his businesses, and created an online consumer goods sales company with his son Laurent.


English version by Graham Tearse

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The sums awarded to Bernard Tapie, gross and net, cited in this report were corrected on May 21st according to latest information revealed by the French national audit office, the Court of Accounts. They were in fact greater than originally reported, by 13 million euros for the gross sum, and by 10 million euros for the net sum, he received.