Orange boss sentenced to probation in Tapie affair in France

PARIS (dpa-AFX) – In the affair of the sale of adidas shares by the recently deceased ex-owner Bernard Tapie, a court in Paris has sentenced the head of the French telecom company Orange, Stéphane Richard, to one year probation. For embezzlement of public funds, the former head of the closest staff of the then Minister of Economic Affairs Christine Lagarde also has to pay a fine of 50,000 euros, the court ruled on Wednesday. Three other defendants, including Tapie’s longtime attorney, have been sentenced to terms ranging from two years on probation to three years in prison and heavy fines.

The Paris professional case concerned a complicated affair that had preoccupied the French judiciary for years. Tapie saw itself cheated by the then state bank Crédit Lyonnais when selling shares in the German sporting goods manufacturer Adidas in the early 1990s and sued. In 2008, Tapie was awarded more than 400 million euros in compensation in an arbitration proceeding. The award was later overturned by a civil court. It was about embezzlement of public funds because the compensation ultimately came from the state treasury.

Tapie had repeatedly rejected allegations of manipulation in the course of the arbitration proceedings. The former minister and head of the Olympique Marseille football club was acquitted in the first instance in the summer of 2019. The public prosecutor had appealed against it. After suffering from cancer, Tapie died in early October at the age of 78. His acquittal thus stands ./evs/DP/eas

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