French tycoon Tapie questioned in arbitration deal

2013-06-24 10:38:14 GMT2013-06-24 18:38:14(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

PARIS, June 24 (Xinhua) -- French businessman Bernard Tapie was held on Monday for questioning over an arbitration deal that awarded him a large pay-out in 2008 to settle a long dispute with the state-run bank Credit Lyonnais.

The hearing by the country's financial brigade could last up to 96 hours for Tapie who risked accusations of "organized fraud."

"I did not care to be questioned. What do you think? Appointments like this one, I had seven with Eva Joly with charges against me were dismissed in six cases and discharged in another one...," Tapie told the local broadcaster Europe1.

The case goes back to 1993 when Tapie, former minister and supporter of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, sued the state for compensation after selling his stake in sports company Adidas to then state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais.

Tapie argued the bank now the bank part of Credit Agricole, had defrauded him after it later resold his stake for a much higher sum.

In 2008, Christine Lagarde, then finance minsiter decided to use arbitration to handle a row that resulted in 400 million euros (524.2 million U.S. dollars) being paid to the businessman.

Last month, the International Monetary Fund chief was also questioned for two days about the payout to Tapie, but she was named an "assisted witness".

Meanwhile, her cabinet chief at the time, Stephane Richard, Orange CEO was placed under formal investigation for "organized fraud" as part of the corruption probe.

Richard risked being sentenced to 10-year jail term and fined 1 million euros. (1 euro =1.31 U.S. dollar)

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