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IMF board wants quick meeting on Lagarde investigation

August 28, 2014

Washington (Alliance News) - The executive board of the International Monetary Fund wants to meet as soon as possible to discuss an investigation of possible wrongdoing by IMF director Christine Lagarde in her previous job as French finance minister, an IMF spokesman said Thursday.

The meeting should take place "very soon," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said in Washington. "I'm not going to go into detail. It's not appropriate for me."

The board has a meeting scheduled for Friday to discuss a financial aid package for Ukraine, but Rice said it was unlikely the investigation of Lagarde would be on the agenda.

French investigators are looking into a 400-million-euro state payout made to a businessman when Lagarde was finance minister. The board has been briefed on the matter on a regular basis, Rice said, adding that while there is an allegation, "no charges have been made."

Lagarde, 58, was questioned Tuesday in Paris for a fourth time over the case by a court that investigates ministerial wrongdoing, French media reported.

At the end of the session, Lagarde told AFP news agency, the court's commission of investigation had decided to charge her with negligence.

Asked whether she would resign her post, Lagarde, who has always denied any wrongdoing, replied "No." She said she had instructed her lawyer to challenge the decision.

Lagarde returned to work at IMF headquarters in Washington after being question.

The case revolves around Lagarde's decision to refer to an arbitration panel a long-running dispute between the government and businessman Bernard Tapie over the sale of his sportswear company Adidas.

The mediators ordered the state to pay Tapie 400 million euros in compensation - a figure far in excess of the amount he might have expected to win had the matter been left to the courts.

Lagarde overruled her advisors in pushing for a settlement.

Tapie's support for then-president Nicolas Sarkozy during his 2007 election campaign sparked suspicion of a sweetheart deal to benefit the businessman.

Five people, including Tapie and Lagarde's former Finance Ministry chief of staff, France Telecom boss Stephane Richard, have already been charged in the case.

Lagarde took over the helm of the IMF after her French predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, quit in 2011 to fight charges of sexual assault.

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Source: Alliance News

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