Stéphane Richard, current Orange boss, receives a one-year suspended sentence in the Bernard Tapie – Credit Lyonnais arbitration. The company looks at its fate in the evening.
A “fraudulent” sentence, biased in the direction of Bernard Tapie: the Court of Appeal of Paris condemned, Wednesday, four defendants, including the current boss of Orange Stéphane Richard, in the case of the Credit arbitration Lyonnais, in 2008. Contrary to the decision of the Criminal Court, which had pronounced a general acquittal in July 2019, the Court ruled that the arbitration, which had awarded 403 million euros (422.5 million euros francs) to Bernard Tapie, had been the subject of a “swindle”.
The small courtroom, filled like a œuf, listened in thick silence to this long-awaited decision, decisive in the ancient conflict between Bernard Tapie, who died in October, at Crédit Lyonnais around the resale of Adidas in the early 1990s. in 2008, which was to end the dispute, was immediately controversial. It has since been canceled in civil matters, in 2015, and Bernard Tapie ordered to reimburse the public money collected.
It was in the criminal proceedings that the Court of Appeal ruled on Wednesday, which had to determine whether offenses had been committed. At the time chief of staff of the Minister of the Economy Christine Lagarde, Stéphane Richard, now CEO of Orange, was sentenced to a one-year suspended prison sentence and 50,000 euros (52,500 francs). ‘fine.
“He committed serious acts by privileging the interests of Bernard Tapie to the detriment of those of the State and of the public finances which he was responsible for defending”, explained the President of the Court, Sophie Clément. He “betrayed the confidence” of Christine Lagarde by “his occult actions”, continued the magistrate. “The damage suffered by the State is immense, because of the sums embezzled and the discredit that the behavior of the accused has brought to the public service.”
Stéphane Richard, 60, who left the courtroom without commenting, announced an appeal in cassation, denouncing “accusations without any foundation” and “based on no evidence”. “I am handing over my mandate to the Orange Board of Directors,” he added.
Arbitrator “committed to the cause of Bernard Tapie”
For not having lodged an appeal against the arbitration award, Christine Lagarde was found, in 2016, guilty of “negligence” but exempted from punishment by the Court of Justice of the Republic. The Court of Appeal handed down the heaviest sentences against the two men convicted of fraud: one of the three arbitrators, Pierre E., and Bernard Tapie’s historical lawyer, Maurice L.
The first, now 95 years old, “committed to the cause of Bernard Tapie”, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of 300,000 euros (315,000 francs). The second, who “obtained the designation” of the first, was sentenced to three years in prison, including one firm year, a fine of 300,000 euros (315,000 francs) and a ban on practice for five years. – applicable immediately.
600,000 euros in legal costs
Bernard Tapie was implicated in this case, but the criminal proceedings against him have been extinguished since his death on October 3. The Court of Appeal nevertheless considered that he had “committed a civil fault” by “activating his political support” and by “mandating his lawyer to put pressure on the opposing party”. On reading these motivations, Hervé Temime, lawyer for the businessman who has always claimed his innocence, shook his head.
Pierre E. and Maurice L., as well as the companies in liquidation of Bernard Tapie were ordered to pay approximately 400 million euros (more than 420 million francs) to the structures managing the liabilities of Crédit Lyonnais. Stéphane Richard and another accused, former president of an entity responsible for managing the liabilities of Crédit Lyonnais, were ordered to pay 40,000 euros (more than 42,000 francs) to these same structures and the four defendants to pay 100 ‘000 euros (105’000 francs) for non-pecuniary damage to the State, as well as 600’000 euros (630’000 francs) in legal costs.
An Orange board of directors is scheduled for this Wednesday, early evening, to decide on the future of CEO Stéphane Richard, sentenced to one year of suspended imprisonment in the arbitration case between Bernard Tapie and Credit Lyonnais. Stéphane Richard, whose mandate at the head of the operator comes to an end in mid-2022, expressed the “personal wish” to remain president of the group after this date, by dissociating the function of managing director.
In 2018, the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire warned, however, that in the event of a conviction, he would have to resign his mandate, while the French telecoms giant has the French State as its main shareholder, with more than 20% of the capital.