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French police raid home of IMF head Lagarde

PARIS — The French police on Wednesday searched the Paris apartment of Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, in an investigation into her handling of a financial scandal when she was the French finance minister.

The investigation concerns Lagarde’s decision in 2007 to refer to an arbitration panel a dispute between Bernard Tapie, a French billionaire and supporter of former President Nicolas Sarkozy, and the state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais. The panel ultimately brokered a settlement that awarded Tapie about $580 million, including interest.

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A panel is looking into whether she was complicit in embezzling public money in what critics say was an overly generous award to a presidential friend.

Lagarde has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and has expressed her willingness to cooperate with any inquiry.

Tapie had borrowed 1.6 billion French francs from Credit Lyonnais to buy the distressed Adidas sports empire in 1989.

But unable to keep up with the interest payments, Tapie converted his debt to the bank into shares of Adidas, which Credit Lyonnais later sold in 1993 for more than the value of the loan. Tapie accused the bank of cheating him.

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