Christine Lagarde escapes formal investigation in court
Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: IMF chief Christine Lagarde was saved from a highly embarrassing situation as French magistrates decided not to place her under formal investigation over role in the French arbitration case.
Lagarde has come under attack for her role in a 285-million-euro arbitration payment made to a supporter of former president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Lagarde has been instead given the status of a "supervised witness" after two full days of questioning on her 2008 decision as Sarkozy's finance minister to use arbitration to settle a legal battle between the state and businessman Bernard Tapie.
Emerging from a Paris court late on Friday evening, a composed-looking Lagarde read from a statement asserting that she had not acted against the public interest.
"My explanations answered questions raised about the decisions that I had made at the time," she told reporters. "My status as a supervised witness is not a surprise for me because I always acted in the interest of the state and according to the law."
She added: "Now, it's time for me to go back to work in Washington, and I will of course be briefing my board."
The status of supervised witness means that in any future hearings, Lagarde would answer questions as a witness accompanied by a lawyer.
It is much less serious than being placed under formal investigation, which would have indicated "serious or consistent evidence" pointing to her probable implication in a crime.
The IMF reaffirmed its confidence in Lagarde, who took over the helm after her predecessor, Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, quit in mid-2011 over a sex assault scandal.
"The Executive Board has been briefed on this matter several times and on each occasion expressed confidence in the Managing Director's ability to effectively carry out her duties," spokesman Gerry Rice said in Washington.
With Agency Inputs