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IMF's Christine Lagarde Found Guilty Of Negligence Over 2008 Dispute

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde arrives at a special court in Paris on Dec. 12.
Thibault Camus AP
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde arrives at a special court in Paris on Dec. 12.

A French court found Christine Lagarde, the current head of the International Monetary Fund, guilty of negligence for improperly overseeing a 2008 case when she was France's finance minister.

The Court of Justice of the Republic, which oversees cases related to alleged misconduct by government officials, did not sentence Lagarde to any prison time, The New York Times reported.

Lagarde, who was part of then-President Nicolas Sarkozy's administration at the time, was accused of succumbing to political pressure in her handling of the case, as The Two-Way has reported:

"The case involved businessman and Sarkozy supporter Bernard Tapie and the sale of his stake in Adidas. Tapie claimed that the partly state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais 'had defrauded him by deliberately undervaluing the company.' "Lagarde, then the finance minister, referred the matter to an arbitration panel, which decided in Tapie's favor, awarding him $527 million [more than 400 million euros]."

Lagarde maintained her innocence, saying she might have been unknowingly negligent but that she did her job as well as she could at the time, as NPR's Eleanor Beardsley has reported.

Lagarde has led the International Monetary Fund since 2011. If you'd like to know more about what the IMF does, NPR's Planet Money has more here.

It is unclear how, if at all, the court's decision could change her position within the organization. When the trial got underway, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told The Wall Street Journal, "The [IMF] Executive Board has been briefed on recent developments related to this matter, and continues to express its confidence in the managing director's ability to effectively carry out her duties."

On Monday, Rice released a brief statement saying the organization's board would "meet again shortly" to consider the court's verdict.

The Times reports that Lagarde's conviction could destabilize the IMF, "as it faces a host of thorny issues, including questions over its participation in a multibillion-dollar bailout for Greece and uncertainty about the United States' role in the organization once Donald J. Trump becomes president in January."

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