French prosecutor finds evidence that Lagarde 'obstructed law' in Tapie case

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Evidence of abuse of authority

Prosecutor Nadal's 18-page report to the Court of Justice begins with a summary of the complaints made by the nine Socialist MPs who first petitioned him on April 1st. It cites reports by French parliament's Finance Commission, and another by the Court of Accounts, both of which highlighted possible misconduct in the massive payout to Tapie.

The report also includes a summary of arguments given by Lagarde's lawyer, Yves Repiquet, in which he and the minister insist that the arbitration procedure was perfectly legitimate and that no criminal act was committed.

Nadal sets out a list of 11 points, set out in highly technical legal language, that constitute a blow-by-blow attack on the arguments presented by Lagarde and her lawyer. His report ends with this damning conclusion:

"All of these elements, attested in the documents contained in the annex, can be regarded as evidence that Madame, the Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry, a person invested with public authority, did, in the exercising of her duties, take measures aimed at obstructing the law, in the case in point, providing for the defeasance structure with which to wrap up the Tapie/Adidas litigation."

B. Tapie © Mediapart B. Tapie © Mediapart

"It seems, as the number and the tone of repeated memos to her indicate, that when decisions were made to resort to an arbitration tribunal, or to exclude the Crédit Lyonnais from the debate about the arbitration process, or to envisage a challenge to the proposed arbitrators, or when the CDR was formally notified of the arbitration judgment, and finally when an appeal to have the judgment annulled was considered, that Madame, the Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry, constantly exercised her ministerial powers to reach the solution that favoured Bernard Tapie, which the plenary session of the Cour de Cassation had appeared however to have compromised."

Nadal's report highlights the questionable conditions in which a record compensation sum of almost 50 million euros was paid to Tapie by the CDR, the French public entity responsible for the liabilities of the Crédit Lyonnais for moral damages, and which caused outrage among a number of MPs. "The conditions under which approval was sought and obtained from the CDR board can be regarded as further evidence that measures existed to favour by-passing the use of law and common law legal jurisdictions, reinforcing evidence that a misdemeanour involving abuse of authority could have been committed," the prosecutor noted.

In the report, Nadal said it was questionable whether the CDR was legally empowered to enter into an arbitration process. He said that "despite the existence of opposing views, like that from the Agence des Participations de l'Etat1 dated August 1st 2007, the minister explicitly instructed the chairman of the CDR to begin the arbitration procedure, even while it refused to allow him to draw all the conclusions from the preceding legal decision that was favourable to the state's interests."

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1: The Agence des Participations de l'Etat (APE), the French Agency for State Shareholdings, is the government body charged with managing corporate shareholdings owned by the French government.

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