PARIS (Reuters) – The tycoon at the center of a decades-old French legal battle that has dragged politicians and business leaders in its wake goes on trial on Monday accused of fraud.
Bernard Tapie, the larger-than-life businessman and one-time chairman of Olympique Marseille football club, is embroiled in a fight over a fraught 1993 corporate deal and the compensation he won from the state 15 years later.
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The case has already been through the civil courts and prompted a 2016 trial of Christine Lagarde, now head of the International Monetary Fund but at the time finance minister, for her role in the saga. She was convicted of negligence but escaped fines or jail time.
Six people will now be tried in a criminal court, including Tapie, 76, and Stephane Richard, the chief executive of telecoms group Orange , who is accused of being complicit in the disputed state payment.
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Richard was Lagarde’s chief of staff in 2008.
The complex case harks back to when Credit Lyonnais bank bought Tapie’s stake in the then-struggling sportswear company Adidas 26 years ago.
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The bank, which was government owned at the time, later sold its stake on for a much higher price, leading the businessman to accuse it of defrauding him.
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