(Kiosk Photo: The Cafe de Flore and Miss Dior, Natalie Portman, at Saint Germain des Pres in Paris, France, by SC.)
Le Kiosque 25 May 2013
This week, France came close to a scandal… another time! It involved Christine Lagarde, who has been the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund since July 2011. (The former MD was a certain Dominique Strauss-Kahn. who was obliged to resign.) Lagarde was previously the minister of the economy when Nicolas Sarkozy was president. She was suspected of putting the State at a disadvantage when she decided to resolve a seemingly interminable and costly lawsuit by French businessman Bernard Tapie through arbitration in 2008. He walked away with something like 400 million euros.
This shadow has been hanging over the silver-haired Lagarde for years. No one has ever suggested she profited from the decision. The suspicion is that Sarkozy won political capital. Finally, this week Lagarde had her day explaining it all to the court. The magistrate deemed her a material witness, brought no charges, and sent her back to her throne at the IMF in Washington.
Even though Lagarde’s name is sometimes floated as a presidential candidate in 2017, her likely opponent, current President François Hollande, was no doubt relieved by the court’s decision. The Prestige of France was at stake after the shameful departure of Dominique Strauss-Kahn two years ago. That is why Hollande did nothing to make things worse for the MD of the IMF, even if he was tempted.
— Solène Cressant