Christine Lagarde will remain head of the International Monetary Fund despite her conviction Monday of negligence in a case dating to her tenure as France's finance minister. The IMF's executive board quickly met after the court's decision and expressed "full confidence" in Lagarde's ability to carry out her duties at the head of the Washington-based international lending agency. In a statement, the board cited her "outstanding leadership" and the respect and trust she has worldwide. After a weeklong trial, France's Court of Justice of the Republic found Lagarde guilty on one count of negligence but spared her jail time and a criminal record. The 60-year-old IMF leader had risked a year of imprisonment and a fine, reports the AP.
The case revolves around a $425 million arbitration award given to tycoon Bernard Tapie in 2008 over the botched sale of sportswear giant Adidas in the 1990s. Civil courts have since quashed the unusually generous award, declared the arbitration process and deal fraudulent, and ordered Tapie to refund the money. The special court's presiding judge, in reading the verdict, said Lagarde should have asked her aides and others for more information about the "shocking arbitration award." In deciding not to sentence Lagarde, the court noted that the award to Tapie has since been annulled, sparing damage to the public purse. It also noted that Lagarde was busy at the time with the global economic crisis. Still, the guilty verdict tarnishes the career of one of the most powerful women in global finance; she's the first woman to head the IMF.