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France

French tycoon Tapie blasts court after assets seizure

© Photo: AFP

Video by Oliver FARRY

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-07-10

French business tycoon Bernard Tapie, suspected of rigging a 403 million euro payout during Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency, said in a TV interview Wednesday he had been “executed” before “sentence” after judges ordered the seizure of his assets.

Notorious French business tycoon Bernard Tapie, suspected of rigging a 403 million euro arbitration settlement he received in 2008, on Wednesday said in a TV interview he had been “executed before he was sentenced” after judges ordered his assets seized.

Court bailiffs will confiscate assets worth tens of millions of euros– including a luxury villa on the French Mediterranean coast – in a move that suggests investigating judges believe they have evidence of fraud arbitration payment he received in 2008 under former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said the Socialist government, which took power after Sarkozy’s May 2012 election defeat, had asked for “protective measures” to be taken in case reparations needed to be made to the state.

Tapie – a former Socialist minister, singer and football club owner who supported Sarkozy in the last two elections - was awarded the money to settle a dispute with the now defunct, state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais over a 1993 share sale.

He was awarded 285 million euros, rising to 403 million with interest and before taxes, to settle his claim that the bank defrauded him by buying his stake in sports firm Adidas for 315.5 million euros only to sell it on a year on for 701 million.

 Sarkozy’s legal headaches

Under formal investigation since June 28 on suspicion that the arbitration payment may have been rigged, Tapie has denied any wrongdoing and said he would contest the seizures of his property.

“I didn’t realise I live in a country where people are executed before they are sentenced,” Tapie, 70, said in a 45-minute interview on French TV channel iTele.

Sarkozy has immunity for life for any acts carried out while he was president.

But the former president could come under scrutiny if it emerged that the arbitration settlement was planned earlier, when he was finance minister under former president Jacques Chirac.

The Tapie affair is the latest in a string of legal headaches pressing on Sarkozy as he mulls a possible political comeback to reunite his fractured UMP conservative party ahead of the 2017 presidential election.

It has embroiled several of his former cabinet members including International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, who was his finance minister in 2008.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-07-10

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