When Christine Lagarde took the helm at the IMF in 2011 following the resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn over a high-profile sexual assault case, she too brought a cloud of scandal with her. And until recently, it seemed like she was going to follow DSK's lead in beating the charges leveled against her. A prosecutor even called her case “very weak.”
Like so many IMF projections of the past few years, however, that assumption proved unwise. On Monday, a Paris court found Lagarde guilty of negligence in the case of a contested 2008 state payout to a charismatic tycoon that took place while she was finance minister.
It's not clear yet what Lagarde's future holds. Being found negligent in a payout of €403 million hardly looks good for someone whose job is to oversee the international deployment of money. Then again, her conviction sounds downright quaint compared to the charges of sexual assault and, later “aggravated pimping” that Strauss-Kahn has faced.
In a statement, the IMF basically said, “Christine who?”
But there's still a glimmer of hope for the now-officially-disgraced Lagarde. According to the FT, the court's decision not to subject her to any punishment could mean she gets to keep her job.
The IMF’s board had also been preparing for a possible conviction, with people close to major shareholders saying that in the absence of a prison term — and with continuing support from the French government — Ms Lagarde would probably be able to stay in her position.