PARIS (Reuters) – The tycoon at the center of a decades-old French felony battle that has dragged politicians and business leaders in its wake is going on trial on Monday accused of fraud.

Bernard Tapie, the larger-than-existence businessman and one-time chairman of Olympique Marseille soccer club, is embroiled in a fight over a full 1993 company deal and the repayment he won from the state 15 years later. The case has already been via the civil courts and brought on a 2016 trial of Christine Lagarde, now head of the International Monetary Fund but on the time finance minister, for her function within the saga. She becomes convicted of negligence but escaped fines or jail time. Six human beings will now be tried in a criminal court docket, such as Tapie, seventy-six, and Stephane Richard, the leader executive of telecoms organization Orange, who are accused of being complicit within the disputed nation payment. Richard became Lagarde’s leader of a team of workers in 2008.


The complex case harks lower back to while Credit Lyonnais bank bought Tapie’s stake inside the then-struggling sports clothing enterprise Adidas 26 years ago. The financial institution, which was authorities owned at the time, later offered its stake on for a miles higher price, leading the businessman to accuse it of defrauding him. Tapie was awarded a 403 million euro ($453 million) Kingdom-funded payout as a part of a 2008 agreement authorized via Lagarde. But litigation continued, and he changed into ordered with the aid of a French courtroom to go back the price range in 2015, with the ruling confirmed by way of different judges in 2017. The businessman, who’s tormented by cancer, is also being attempted for misusing public budget. He told France’s JDD newspaper that he become stopping any shape of treatment for his infection so he should live lucid in the course of the trial. “This trial is one of the maximum important moments of my life,” Tapie stated. “What matters to me is that we establish, resoundingly, that I turned into no longer the crook.” Richard, who’s accused of hiding some components of the compensation deal from Lagarde, denies any wrongdoing. “He is calling forward to being capable of explaining himself in public and display that the allegations towards him are baseless,” his attorney Jean-Etienne Giamarchi stated. The French authorities, which has a 23 percentage stake in Orange, has said Richard will need to step down if he’s convicted. The trial is due to last until April 5. The accused face potential most jail sentences of 5 to seven years, and fines of as much as 375,000 euros.

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