French prosecutor urges probe into finance minister Lagarde

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A prosecutor called on Tuesday for a probe targeting France's Finance Minister Christine Lagarde in connection with her handling of a high-profile scandal involving tycoon Bernard Tapie.

Prosecutor Jean-Louis Nadal asked the Court of Justice of the Republic, which is authorised to try serving government ministers, to launch a judicial investigation into whether Lagarde exceeded her authority in Tapie's case.

An aide to Lagarde downplayed the news, saying the prosecutor's move was "a normal step in the prodecure" of legal manoeuvres in the complex case.

Lagarde intervened in 2007 in a long-running court dispute between the flamboyant tycoon Tapie and the major bank Credit Lyonnais, by ordering a panel of judges to arbitrate in the case.

This led to a ruling in 2008 that awarded Tapie 240 million euros ($345 million) in damages.

© 2011 AFP

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