French court summons IMF chief: report

IMF chief Christine Lagarde has been summoned by a French court to testify in the probe into a high-profile scandal when she was a government minister, online journal Mediapart reported late Wednesday.

The special French court established to try cases of ministerial misconduct will hear the former French economy and finance minister in the second half of May, over a dispute between disgraced tycoon Bernard Tapie and the collapsed bank Credit Lyonnais, the journal said.

On March 20, French police raided Lagarde's Paris home in connection with the investigation into her decision in 2007, when she was a government minister, to ask an arbitration panel to rule on the case.

The arbitration resulted in Tapie being awarded around 400 million euros ($520 million). Mediapart said the hearing could be held on May 23 with Lagarde possibly being formally put under investigation at that point.

Lagarde was head of the economy and finance ministry in Paris between 2007 and 2011. She was then appointed managing director of the Washington-based International Monetary Fund.

The arbitration ruling had triggered outrage among critics who insisted the state should never have taken the risk of being forced to pay money to Tapie, a former government minister and convicted criminal.

The CJR has deemed Lagarde's decision to send the Tapie case to arbitration "questionable" and has suggested she was complicit in a process characterized by "numerous anomalies and irregularities".

Contacted by AFP on Wednesday the IMF would not comment on the latest developments in the case. On March 28 the Fund said it remained confident in Lagarde despite the French probe.

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