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IMF Chief Christine Lagarde Must Stand Trial Over $440 Million Payout

PARIS — International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde must stand trial in France over a ruling in 2008 that handed around $440 million of public funds to a politically-connected business magnate, France's top court said Friday.

Image: Christine Lagarde
Christine Lagarde attends a news conference in Paris in March this year. JACKY NAEGELEN / Reuters

Lagarde, who was France's finance minister at the time of the deal in favor of French tycoon Bernard Tapie, is accused of negligence in the case. She has denied wrongdoing.

France's Court of Cassation rejected her appeal Friday after a special court ruled in December that she should stand trial. Her lawyers did not immediately respond to the decision.

Lagarde, who was in China on Friday at a Group of 20 summit, has said she had acted "in the best interest of the French state and in full compliance with the law."

The case is part of a larger legal saga centering on Tapie. The flamboyant magnate and TV star sued French bank Credit Lyonnais for its handling of the sale of his majority stake in sportswear company Adidas in the mid-1990s.

With Lagarde's approval, a private arbitration panel ruled that he should get around $440 million in compensation, including interest.

"Negligence" by a person invested with public authority carries a risk of up to a year in prison and a $16,500 fine. A date has not been set for the trial.