Christine Lagarde, the serving head of the IMF, is to face a special French court in December, accused of negligence in the Bernard Tapie affair. Mr Tapie, who has a major interest in local French newspaper Nice-Matin, was awarded €404 million in 2008 as the result of an administrative decision when Ms Lagarde was the French Minister of Finance. The award was based on the argument that Credit Lyonnais had failed in its duty to Mr Tapie in his sale of Adidas, the footwear company, but Ms Lagarde has come under fire for not sending the case to independent arbitration. Mr Tapie, himself a former politician, has since been ordered to repay the full amount to the French state.
Mr Tapie has been a very active participant in various schemes to save the troubled Nice-Matin group in recent years, and according to the Observatoire des Journalistes et de l’Information Mediatique, an investigative journalists’ group, he continues to have a minority interest through the Nethys newspaper company, which the group claims is his “military arm in the Alpes Maritimes”.
In the meantime, Google has come to the rescue of Nice-Matin with an injection of funds to help support its digital edition, while the print run of Nice-Matin and its sister daily Monaco-Matin continue to shrink.