Lagarde comes under pressure over probe into Tapie payment

THE INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday backed its managing director, Christine Lagarde, after a report that she could be forced to step down amid an investigation into damages payments.

Lagarde, who replaced Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the top of the IMF in 2011, faces accusations in relation to a €285m (£248m) settlement paid out of public funds to French tycoon-turned-politician Bernard Tapie in 2008.

Lagarde, who was France’s finance minister at the time, has been accused of pushing lender Credit Lyonnais to enter arbitration with Tapie over their long-running spat surrounding the 1993 sale of Adidas, which led to the settlement.

Now Lagarde is expected to be summoned to answer questions by a judge this week, sparking speculation that she will be placed under investigation.

IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said he could not comment on the case, but stressed that Lagarde has the support of the fund.

“Prior to its selection of the managing director… the IMF’s executive board discussed this issue and expressed its confidence that Madame Lagarde would be able to effectively carry out her duties as managing director.”

Lagarde’s lawyer has reportedly called the accusations “absurd”.