A French tribunal ruled IMF Chief Christine Lagarde Guilty of Negligence, but withheld punishment.
Christine Lagarde was found guilty of negligence in public office by a special Paris court on Monday in a case that has cast a cloud over her position as managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
A French tribunal decided not to hand down any sentence to the former French finance minister. Ms Lagarde’s lawyer said the verdict would not enter into her judicial record and claimed the verdict as a “half victory”.
The court, dedicated to judging ministers, said Ms Lagarde failed to prevent a fraudulent €403m payout the French state made to flamboyant entrepreneur Bernard Tapie when she was finance minister.
It said that Ms Lagarde should have appealed the payout, which occurred in 2008.
The conviction is an unwelcome stain on the IMF managing director’s stint at the fund but it may not be enough to see her toppled as its head.
The IMF’s board had also been preparing for a possible conviction, with people close to major shareholders saying that in the absence of a prison term — and with continuing support from the French government — Ms Lagarde would probably be able to stay in her position.
After the judgment, the French government said it maintained “all its confidence” in Ms Lagarde’s ability to carry out her responsibilities at the fund.
The prosecutor argued throughout the trial that the case against Ms Lagarde was “very weak”. In summing up, he said that she was merely following the reasonable advice of her advisers, which was an error only with hindsight.
Legal cases in France are drawn up by magistrates, who then hand them on to prosecutors, who are free to take a different line in court.
- It seems quite peculiar for “prosecutors” to publicly proclaim they have a weak case.
- This is the second, high-profile “Guilty, No Punishment” case in Europe this month.
- If the case was weak, why was she guilty?
- If she was guilty, why was there no punishment?
Another Wilders’ Moment
On December 9, in the Netherlands, a Dutch tribunal ruled Geert Wilders Guilty Without Penalty for inciting discrimination and insulting Moroccans, deemed to be an “ethnic group”.
In that case, the court ruled that conviction alone was sufficient penalty.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock