IMF chief Lagarde avoids charges in French payout scandal

24th May 2013, Comments 0 comments

IMF chief Christine Lagarde avoided immediate charges Friday but was named an "assisted witness" after French prosecutors grilled her for two days over a state payout to a disgraced tycoon when she was finance minister.

"My status as assisted witness is not a surprise," she told reporters.

"I have always acted in the best public interest and in accordance with the law."

The status of assisted witness falls between that of simple witness and being placed under formal investigation and implies there is some evidence against the person questioned.

"My explanations came as a response to the doubts that had been brought up regarding the decisions I had taken at the time," Lagarde said, adding that she was heading back to Washington to brief the board of the International Monetary Fund.

Lagarde, 57, was questioned for a total of 24 hours by prosecutors working for a court that probes cases of ministerial misconduct over her 2007 handling of a row that resulted in 400 million euros ($515 million) being paid to controversial business figure Bernard Tapie.

Had she been charged Lagarde's future would have been in question, though the IMF expressed confidence in its first woman leader.

© 2013 AFP

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