After his conviction in the Tapie trial, the boss is about to hand over.
After his sentence to one year in prison suspended in 50,000 euros fine as part of the “Tapie trial”, Stéphane Richard, the CEO of Orange immediately proposed his resignation to the Board of Directors. The latter accepted it early Wednesday evening. Stéphane Richard will nevertheless continue to exercise his functions until the establishment of a new governance, on January 31 at the latest. “The Board of Directors wishes to underline Stéphane Richard’s desire to preserve the good governance of the group.“, Said Orange.
On Wednesday morning, the long-awaited verdict of the Paris Court of Appeal in the context of the “Tapie trial” fell. The court decision which ends ten years of presidency of Stéphane Richard, was initially due on October 6. But the death of Bernard Tapie three days earlier had prompted the Court to postpone its decision. The disappearance of the businessman has put an end to the proceedings against him, without changing anything for his co-defendants. Stéphane Richard was prosecuted for his role in the arbitration of the Tapie Crédit Lyonnais Affair in 2008. The boss of Orange was then Chief of Staff to Christine Lagarde, herself then Minister of the Economy. An arbitration tribunal had awarded 404 million euros to the businessman, in order to settle the dispute between him and the bank since the sale of Adidas in 1992!
Quickly, the decision had been criticized. In 2013, a new twist: Bernard Tapie, Stéphane Richard, who became CEO of Orange, the former magistrate Pierre Estoup and the historical lawyer of Bernard Tapie Maurice Lantourne are indicted for “organized gang scam“. Two years later, the arbitration was quashed by the Court of Appeal. Then in 2017, the five defendants were sent back to correctional facilities. It was not until 2019 that the general acquittal was pronounced at first instance. But the prosecution did not stop there and appealed. With the verdict we know: Stéphane Richard, sentenced for “complicity in public misappropriation», Receives a one-year suspended sentence and a fine of 50,000 euros. A less onerous sentence than that imposed on Pierre Estoup, sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of 300,000 euros, and on Maurice Lantourne, to three years in prison including one firm year, a fine of 300,000 euros and a ban on ‘exercise for five years. To believe that “the verdict has been calibrated. The prosecution does not reconsider and Stéphane Richard could claim to remain at the presidency of Orange», Analyzes a lawyer.
Behind the scenes, many people see Stéphane Richard as a “fuse” in this affair. Moreover, this one does not say anything else, affirming at the exit of the court: “I only carried out the ministerial decision to go to arbitration, which was totally assumed by Christine Lagarde. Who was also condemned for simple negligence. It’s unbelievably unfair and deeply unfair».
A feeling that also prevails in the ranks of the operator. “It was fashionable at Orange to think – or pretend to think – that he would be recognized as innocent.», Slips a relative of the file. “Because Stéphane Richard says he is innocent, we thought that the verdict would exonerate him», Adds another relative. Stéphane Richard explains rejecting “totally the accusations” and “will appeal to cassation». «JI only executed the ministerial decision to go to arbitration, which was fully assumed by Christine LagardeHe adds. A situation which partly explains the amazement of some protagonists at the announcement of the verdict.
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