PARIS: IMF chief Christine Lagarde on Friday will make a final bid to avoid a trial over her handling of a massive state payout to French tycoon Bernard Tapie when she was finance minister.
A French judge will consider Lagarde's challenge to a December court order for her to stand trial for negligence in the affair, which saw Tapie receive 404 million euros ($433 million) in taxpayer money.
Despite her legal woes, the International Monetary Fund board in February named Lagarde, 60, to a second term as managing director, which officially starts next week.
Lagarde, who faces a fine of 15,000 euros ($16,000) if convicted, was placed under formal investigation in 2014 for negligence in a protracted legal drama pitting Tapie against a bank which he accused of defrauding him during his sale of sports clothing giant Adidas in the 1990s.
Lagarde has denied wrongdoing or that she acted on then president Nicolas Sarkozy's orders.
The 60-year-old Frenchwoman was finance minister under Sarkozy in 2008 when she decided to allow arbitration in the dispute between Tapie and partly state-owned Credit Lyonnais.
As a result of the arbitration Tapie, who had ties to Sarkozy, was awarded the payout to be made by a state-run body in charge of settling the bank's debts.
The negligence charge comes over Lagarde's allowing the private arbitration and her failure to challenge the award, which was hugely beneficial to Tapie but prejudicial to the state.
A court later declared the arbitration fraudulent because one of the arbitrators had links to Tapie.
And in February 2015, another court ordered Tapie to repay the award, an order that has been upheld twice — the second time on Thursday.
French prosecutors last September called for the case against Lagarde to be dropped, but investigating judges decided to send her to trial.
The judge will rule on Lagarde's challenge sometime in July.