Monday, December 19, 2016

Lagarde Found "Negligent" but Goes Unpunished

A court of her peers--other politicians--found Christian Lagarde, head of the IMF, "negligent" in her handling of the award of hundreds of millions of euros to Bernard Tapie back when she was minister of finance but decided to impose no penalty. No doubt this jury of peers recognized that her negligence was an occupational hazard of working for a boss (Nicolas Sarkozy) who knew what he wanted and held her own future in his hands. Neither Tapie nor the Crédit Lyonnais being above reproach, what was a few hundred million among friends? Now Lagarde, standing Fabius on his head, is judged "coupable mais pas responsable." Expedient justice.


bernard said...

If she has any self-respect at all, which I rather doubt, she will resign from her job at the IMF.

Art Goldhammer said...

She may not resign, but the longstanding pressure for a non-European director may now have greater purchase, so she could be forced out.

MCG said...


The amount is substantial, to be sure. But I am confused about these comments.

First question, what kind of so-called court was it that convicted Lagarde? It was made up of judges and politicians. Why? How? Contrary to the opinions expressed here, being condemned by politicians does not strike me as a disgrace. Jealousy is a powerful motivator. Moreover, the prosecutor in the case--the trained lawyer--came out strongly against conviction.

Second question. Am I wrong on the facts? It appears to me that Christine Lagarde has been hounded for five years about what we in the U.S. might call a ministerial decision. She did not in fact make the award that others find excessive. Her negligence, if any, was in deciding as a ministerial matter to leave the decision to arbitration. The arbitrators made the award. The award might have pleased Sarkozy, but it was neither his decision nor Lagarde's decision.

Third question. Would a man who had served as Minister of Finance have been prosecuted for five years by politicians when the professional prosecutor said there was no breach of the law? Take a handy comparison. Christine Lagarde's predecessor at the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was a disgrace by every measure, and only a few months after his humiliating fall from grace involving attacking a chambermaid in New York City, he was dismissed from yet another case, this time in Europe, involving allegations of organizing a prostitution ring. Was he then exiled in disgrace? On the contrary, he was off to do international consulting, with trips to Davos included. True, he was no longer a candidate for the presidency of France, but my guess is that at that time, no one suggested that his libertine ways were increasing the pressure--which had always existed--for a non-European director of the IMF.

Christine Lagarde has no self-respect? She could be forced out of the IMF because of this? Please clarify.