PARIS (AP) — French tycoon Bernard Tapie has been placed under formal investigation on charges stemming from a controversial government payment arranged while IMF chief Christine Lagarde served as France's finance minister.
The Paris prosecutor says Friday it's filed preliminary charges of organized fraud against Tapie, an outspoken magnate who once owned sportswear maker Adidas.
The case involves a 400 million euro ($520 million) payment Tapie received in an arbitration process to settle a dispute over the botched sale of Adidas by a state-owned bank in the 1990s. It's seen as an example of the cozy relationship among the French elite.
Tapie was close to then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy —then Lagarde's boss— when the payment was made. Critics say the deal was too generous to Tapie, and shouldn't have gone to arbitration.