Lagarde Trial: A business class get-out-of-jail free card

5 January 2017 by CADTM France , CADTM Belgique

“A two-month prison sentence for a homeless who stole pasta. Cashier Vanessa is sacked because of a €5.35 mistake. Christine Lagarde, income €31,000 a month, no tax, is declared guilty for €400M present to Tapie, but exempted and FUCKS YOU”.

The committee for the abolition of illegitimate debts reacts to the French Court of Justice’s verdict, exempting the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

On Monday 19th of December 2016, the French Court of Justice gave its verdict on the Tapie case: Nicolas Sarkozy’s former minister and current head of the IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
, Christine Lagarde, is found guilty but is exempted from punishment and her criminal record remains clean (!). The sentence – an incredible feat of legal nonsense – is final as it cannot be appealed against. It simply confirms there’s a special form of justice for senior officials.

Christine Lagarde faced a €15,000 (£12,600) fine and up to a year in prison. She didn’t bother to attend the delivery of her verdict, even though she said she was on leave during the trial, and preferred instead returning to Washington where the IMF is based. It must be said though that suspense was not at an all time high... With a court that exists solely to exempt politicians from ordinary justice, it was predetermined that she would not face a heavy sentence. Especially as the public prosecutor’s office had called for the case to be dismissed and requested exoneration. Under these circumstances Christine Lagarde’s defence proved nothing more than a simple formality.

Ironically however, she has been found guilty of negligence in the management of the arbitration provided between Bernard Tapie and the former public bank, Credit Lyonnais, in 2008, when she was Minister of Finance. The arbitration greatly benefited the French businessman, awarding him no less than 403 million Euros of public money – including 45 million for psychological damages – at the expense of state interests and therefore tax payers. This didn’t prevent Christine Lagarde from stating that she was making decisions “with only the defence of public interest Interest An amount paid in remuneration of an investment or received by a lender. Interest is calculated on the amount of the capital invested or borrowed, the duration of the operation and the rate that has been set. in mind”.

The fact that she did not appeal the arbitration ruling was indeed a reprehensible fault and she was therefore tried for “misappropriation of public funds committed by a third party” as a result of her negligence. During the trial, Christine Lagarde justified her lack of attention to this arbitration by citing the financial crisis of 2008 that she was then tackling... Which may make you laugh or jump from shock when you know that the management of the 2008 banking crisis was one of the largest transfers of public money to the financial sector, making French public debt sky-rocket. [1] The Tapie case is not yet completely over however, as the former principal private secretary of Madame Lagarde and current head of Orange, Stéphane Richard, is indicted along with Bernard Tapie.

Extended Trust?

The French government has immediately reaffirmed its trust in Christine Lagarde in a press release from the Minister of Finance, Michel Sapin: “Christine Lagarde is carrying out her term at the head of the IMF with success and the government maintains full confidence in her ability to carry out her responsibilities”. In February, amidst investigations and the expected trial, the IMF renewed Christine Lagarde’s position at the head of the institution, approving her for a second term of 5 years. [2] The IMF also renewed its support a few hours after the verdict despite her conviction. At an emergency meeting in Washington, the IMF’s Board of Directors expressed “full confidence” in her ability to perform her duties “effectively” and praised her “incredible leadership”. How wonderful! As the largest shareholder in the IMF, the United States also reaffirmed its trust in her and paid tribute to a “strong leader”.

The French Court of Justice also seems to have been seduced by Christine Lagarde’s aura. In their final decision, they cited her “international reputation” as head of the IMF and her “character” as justification for her exemption from punishment. We find ourselves speechless when faced with such legal arguments...

While the IMF loudly boasts “good governance” and demands the highest amounts of discipline from states that it puts into debt with adjustment plans and other memoranda, we have seen successive resignations from general directors against a backdrop of repeated scandals: former managing director of the IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was forced to resign in May of 2011 following his arrest for attempted rape in New York, and his predecessor, the Spanish Rodrigo Rato, was sued for embezzlement, tax evasion, money laundering, fraud and forgery in the Bankia case.

IMF Chair: a convicted person

To summarise, Christine Lagarde endorses the theft of 403 million Euros of public money and emerges with a clean record, an improved image and remains at the head of one of the most powerful financial institutions in the world since the IMF has no clause or article imposing automatic resignation in the case of conviction.

Meanwhile, Jon Palais of the Bizi and ANV-COP21 associations will appear in Dax (South-west French commune) on January 9 for stealing a chair from a BNP branch in Paris: a peaceful protest against the billions of Euros that the bank evades in tax [3] ; a young man is sentenced to 3 months in prison in Toulouse for stealing cheese; Ysoufou and Bagui Traoré received 6 months in prison (3 months suspended sentence) and 8 months in prison respectively, as well as a two year ban from the Beaumont-sur-Oise municipality and a fine of 7,000 Euros for demanding explanation about the death of their brother, who died from police violence.

We could go on. There are endless examples of the impartiality of justice. [4]

Translated by Trommons


[1Within the space of 5 years French public debt went from 1.2 trillion to 1.8 trillion during the Sarkozy era.

[2Which began in July 2016

[3See the call to support Jon Palais and to be present at his trial signed by CADTM France.

[4Read CADTM press release “Luxleaks and Lagarde Trials: how much longer will the judiciary protect financial delinquents? ”

Other articles in English by CADTM France (4)




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