The selection process for the next International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director kicked-off yesterday and will finish on June 10th.
Coincidentally, that is exactly the same date on which the front-runner for the post, France’s Christine Lagarde will learn whether she is to be investigated for “abuse of power”. Currently, Lagarde has not yet confirmed whether she intends to compete for the job but she is already the favourite to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
She has gained a reputation as a “doer” and her decision in 2007 to put a stop to a protracted legal battle could result in her being prosecuted for “abuse of power”.
The former head of Adidas, Bernard Tapie had been waging a court battle for nearly 20 years. He had accused French bank Credit Lyonnais of mishandling the 1993 sale of his company and cheating him. Christine Lagarde stepped-in and ordered that a panel of judges should investigate the case.
A year later, the judges decided in Tapie’s favour and ruled that he should receive £248 in damages.
Credit Lyonnais had gone to the wall and was being administered by a state-operated consortium. That meant that in effect, Tapie’s payout was made from public funds.
Left wing politicians and French Green MEPs have wasted no time in claiming that Lagarde behaved improperly and had exceeded her authority. They have questioned the legality of her actions and there has been suggestion that she may have been acting on orders from ther Elysee Palace. The beneficiary of the judges’ ruling, Bernard Tapie was a well-known Sarkozy supporter. It is that which lends credence to the accusation of Sarkozy having influenced Lagarde’s decision.
Christine Lagarde ought to be lauded for using common sense in ending a legal case which was not showing any sign of being concluded. As usual, it was only the lawyers who were benefiting.
Hopefully, when she is Managing Director of the IMF, she continues to demonstrate the pragmatism and common-sense of a leader and not the stuporous thinking of the average bureaucrat or the furtive back-room well-nigh masonic style of the senior banker.