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article imageIMF chief’s home searched over ‘illegal’ payout under Sarkozy

By Anne Sewell     Mar 20, 2013 in World
Paris - The Paris home of IMF Chief, Christine Lagarde, is being searched by French authorities, over a probe into a multi-million-dollar payout to a supporter of the French ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Police are investigating allegations that Lagarde acted illegally as finance minister in 2008, when she approved a payout of 285 million euro ($367 million) to business mogul Bernard Tapie. A probe was ordered by the Court of Justice of the Republic into the case, under the suspicion that Lagarde had committed an abuse of power by releasing these funds.
At the time, the then socialist opposition alleged that Sarkozy's government was rewarding Tapie for his support during the 2007 elections. Reportedly, Lagarde has been under investigation since 2011, but denies any wrongdoing in the matter.
According to Lagarde's lawyer, Yves Repiquet, the search will exonerate his client of any criminal responsibility in connection with the Tapie affair.
Repiquet told AFP, "This search will help uncover the truth, which will contribute to exonerating my client from any criminal wrongdoing."
In January this year, French authorities stepped up their investigation into the case, by raiding the homes of both Mr Tapie and Lagarde's chief of staff at the time, Stephane Richard.
Maintaining her innocence, Lagarde spoke out against the raids at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
She told France 2, “It [the arbitration] was the best solution at the time and I believe I made the right choice,” pledging her complete cooperation with authorities on the ongoing case.
After her predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned due to rape allegations, Lagarde, 57, assumed the role of chief of the IMF in 2011.
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