After a fourth round of questioning before magistrates on Wednesday, Lagarde said she was returning to her work in
Lagarde and her former chief of staff have faced questions about their role in an arbitration ruling that handed
"After three years of proceedings, dozens of hours of questioning, the court found from the evidence that I committed no offense, and the only allegation is that I was not sufficiently vigilant," she said in a statement.
Under French law, the official investigation is equivalent to preliminary charges, meaning there is reason to suspect an infraction. Investigating judges can later drop a case or issue formal charges and send it to trial.
Defense lawyer Yves Repiquet said the negligence claim was "paltry," "extremely minor" and "unfounded," and said investigators could not make a valid case for tougher penalties. He said he will file a motion to have the preliminary charge dismissed. The charge could bring up to a year in prison and a fine of
Tapie sought to sell his stake in the mid-1990s, asking bank CrÉdit Lyonnais to handle the deal. He felt the sale was mishandled and sued the bank, which at the time was owned by the French state.
At the heart of Lagarde's questioning was her role in the unusual decision to handle the case by private arbitration, rather than through the French legal system. Critics say the case should not have gone to arbitration because state funds were involved. Many also felt the deal was too generous, and was symptomatic of the cozy relationship between money and political power in
Lagarde became finance minister in 2007 under then-president
Lagarde's predecessor at the IMF,
A previous IMF chief,
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