March 20, 2013 - 21:30 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - French authorities searched the Paris apartment of IMF chief Christine Lagarde on Wednesday, March 20, in an investigation into her award of a 2008 arbitration payment to a businessman supporter of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, her lawyer said, according to Reuters.
Lagarde, who was Sarkozy's finance minister at the time, has denied wrongdoing in ending a court battle with Bernard Tapie and to instead opt for arbitration. It resulted in a 285 million euro ($367 million) sum being granted to the billionaire.
Although Lagarde has never been accused of profiting personally from the controversial payment, the long-running Tapie affair is a distraction as the ex-lawyer, a major player on the international stage, seeks to restore stability to the global financial system.
Her predecessor at the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, resigned over sexual assault charges that were later dropped.
Magistrates from a special tribunal that judges alleged abuses by government ministers suspect her of complicity in misusing public funds after she overruled objections from advisers to proceed with arbitration.
The investigation has been open since 2011 and Lagarde has never been summoned for questioning. "This search will help uncover the truth, which will contribute to exonerating my client from any criminal wrongdoing," Lagarde's lawyer, Yves Repiquet, told Reuters.
Lagarde was in Frankfurt and not in her Paris flat at the time of the search, which Repiquet said was carried out by investigating magistrates.
An IMF spokesman declined comment but said that before Lagarde was named managing director, the global lender's board discussed the matter and determined she would be able to lead.
The timing of the search of the apartment was sensitive, coming a day after France's budget minister resigned after being targeted in a tax fraud inquiry.