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French tycoon Tapie charged in corruption scandal

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

French tycoon Bernard Tapie was charged Friday in a corruption probe over a huge state payout to him that has embroiled IMF chief Christine Lagarde, his lawyer said.

Tapie, who had been in custody since Monday, was charged with fraud as part of an organised gang in connection with a 400-million-euro ($525 million) state payout he received in 2008 when Lagarde was France's finance minister.

"There is nothing in the case to show the decision on the payout was the result of fraud," Tapie's lawyer Herve Temine said.

The cash payout to Tapie related to a dispute between the businessman and partly state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais over his 1993 sale of sportswear group Adidas.

Tapie claimed that Credit Lyonnais had defrauded him by intentionally undervaluing Adidas at the time of the sale and that the state, as the bank's principal shareholder, should compensate him.

Lagarde was responsible for referring the issue to a three-man arbitration panel, which ruled in Tapie's favour.

Three people have been charged over the scandal since May, including Stephane Richard, the head of telecommunications giant Orange.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130628/french-tycoon-tapie-charged-corruption-scandal-0