Orange chief exec resigns following £336m fraud sentence
Orange boss Stephane Richard has resigned after being found guilty by the Paris Court of Appeal of aiding and abetting in the misuse of public funds.
He was handed a one year suspended sentence yesterday after he was convicted of complicity to a fraudulent €400m state payout to the controversial tycoon Bernard Tapie in 2008.
France has a minority stake in Orange, and the finance minister has urged that top executives of government-backed companies should have their positions peeled away if convicted of a crime.
Whilst Richard has openly told the media his intention to remain chairman, regardless of the verdict, but conceded his fate was now in the “hands of Orange’s board of directors”, who met yesterday following the court’s decision.
At the time of the crime, Richard was chief of staff to then Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who is now President of the European Central Bank. Lagarde, who has also denied wrongdoing, was convicted of negligence over the affair in December 2016.
Richard was first appointed as chief exec in 2011 and is known for expanding telecoms activities in Africa for the firm, as well as investing in broadband fibre networks across France and Spain.
However, Orange’s stock price didn’t improve much during Richard’s tenure; its shares, which traded at around 11 euros when he first became chief exec, barely moved after the verdict, hanging just under 10 euros.
Orange declined to comment on the case.