Tapie French businessman sees final appeal rejected

Flamboyant French businessman and former cabinet minister Bernard Tapie on Monday learned from lawyers he has lost his final appeal against handing back a multimillion euro government payout surrounding his 1993 sale of Adidas sportswear.

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French businessman Bernard Tapie has been embroiled in a 25-year dispute with the Credit Lyonnais bank over his sale of sportswear firm Adidas but lawyers say he has lost his final appeal play

French businessman Bernard Tapie has been embroiled in a 25-year dispute with the Credit Lyonnais bank over his sale of sportswear firm Adidas but lawyers say he has lost his final appeal

(AFP/File)
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Flamboyant French businessman and former cabinet minister Bernard Tapie on Monday learned from lawyers he has lost his final appeal against handing back a multimillion euro government payout surrounding his 1993 sale of Adidas sportswear.

The former chairman of Marseille football club received 404 million euros ($450 million) in 2008 when a government arbitration panel found he had been the victim of fraud when he sold Adidas, ruling the buyers had undervalued the brand.

The case went back on appeal and in May a court ordered him to hand back the payout, a finding he in turn appealed in a saga in which current IMF head Christine Lagarde, economy minister at the time, became embroiled amid accusations she handled the affair badly.

She referred the case to arbitration and later declined to contest the award, despite it being seen as hugely prejudicial to shocked French taxpayers.

In December, a special Paris court that tries allegations of wrongdoing by ministers found Lagarde guilty of negligence but spared her any penalty.

Tapie, who rose from modest beginnings to become a successful businessman and minister under late former president Francois Mitterrand, claimed malfeasance after mandating the then state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais to sell Adidas for 315.5 million euros in February 1993 only then to sell it on months later for 701 million.

A two-decade legal battle saw the award to Tapie, 74, annulled in 2015 owing to links between him and an arbitrator appointed to settle the Credit Lyonnais case, forcing him to pay back the money and in May, France's highest appeals court rejected his appeal.

After Monday's ruling, Tapie's lawyer Herve Temime said his team would continue to highlight what he termed serious procedural flaws, hinting more light should be shone on to the case to determine where "the true state scandal" lies.

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