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Court delays ruling on Lagarde criminal probe

A French court has delayed a ruling over whether the International Monetary Fund's new boss, Christine Lagarde, will be investigated for abuse of authority.

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Christine Lagarde conducts her first press conference as new IMF Managing Director on July 6, 2011, in Washington, DC. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde must wait other month to learn if she will be investigated over her role in the handling of a lawsuit by business tycoon Bernard Tapie in 2008, when she was France's finance minister.

On Friday morning, France's Court of Justice of the Republic, which decides whether ministers can be probed over alleged offenses committed in office, postponed its decision on the matter until August 4.

The allegations concern a 285 million euro state compensation payment made to businessman and former government minister Bernard Tapie, to settle a dispute between himself and the Credit Lyonnais bank, which was then owned by the state.

The court had already postponed its decision from June to July, when Lagarde traveled to Washington to take up her new post as managing director of the IMF, writes Agence France Presse.

At the time, Tapie had challenged the handling by Credit Lyonnais of the 1993 sale of sportswear company Adidas, which he owned. Lagarde is accused of ignoring expert advice to challenge the compensation amount determined at arbitration, which some said was too generous.

She denied any wrongdoing, and this week told France-24 television that regardless of the court's decision, she would have “the exact same confidence, and same sense of calm”.

The Associated Press said the court had pushed back its decision because one of the judges on the three-member panel recused himself, but the reason remained unclear.

Lagarde could face a fine of up to 75,000 euros and a five-year prison sentence if found guilty.

Lagarde took the IMF helm after her predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, resigned to face charges of sexual assault in New York.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/france/110708/christine-lagarde-imf-chief-criminal-bernard-tapie