France Tel CEO to face court in corruption probe

Source: Thu, 25 Apr 2013 12:09 GMT
Author: Reuters
France Telecom Orange Chairman and CEO Stephane Richard speaks during the company's 2012 annual results presentation in Paris February 20, 2013 REUTERS/Charles Platiau
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    PARIS, April 25 (Reuters) - France Telecom's <FTE.PA> chief executive is to appear before the disciplinary wing of a French court in charge of auditing public spending as part of a probe into alleged corruption when he was a government aide.

   Authorities are investigating the French government's decision in 2008 to award tycoon Bernard Tapie 285 million euros ($370.37 million) in damages as part of his long-running battle with now-defunct bank Credit Lyonnais over the 1993 sale of his stake in sports clothing firm Adidas.

   Stephane Richard was at the time chief of staff to then-finance-minister Christine Lagarde, who today heads the IMF. He confirmed to French daily Le Monde that he had been summoned by the Budgetary and Financial Disciplinary Court, part of France's public Cour des Comptes audit body.

   "I have nothing to hide in this affair," Richard was cited as saying. 

   Neither the disciplinary court nor France Telecom could be reached for comment.

   Christine Lagarde has also been summoned to appear before a court at the end of May to answer questions over her role in the payout to Tapie. ($1 = 0.7695 euros)

(Reporting by Chine Labbe; writing by Lionel Laurent; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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