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    Woman Power

    Christine Lagarde’s Tightrope Act

    The International Monetary Fund chief runs the famously bureaucratic organization in a collegial fashion even as she challenges orthodoxy. On the eve of her appearance at the Women in the World summit, Daniel Gross explains the critical role she plays in the global economy.

    The 21st century dispute between Europe and Russia over the Crimea won’t include another Charge of the Light Brigade. But the financial cavalry did come riding to the rescue, in the form of the International Monetary Fund.

    In late March, the IMF agreed to offer between $14 billion and $18 billion of funding and support to Ukraine’s government, as it attempts to wean itself from the cheap financing and energy that Russia had used to keep the former Ukrainian government firmly in its thrall.

  • Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty

    Drama in Finance

    Christine Lagarde to Appear in Court: Report

    Reportedly will be questioned over her role in “L’Affaire Tapie.”

    It’s been a busy week for IMF head Christine Lagarde. On the eve of the twice-yearly, high-level IMF and World Bank meetings, The New York Times and Reuters report that Lagarde is set to appear before a French magistrate on May 23 in connection with an arbitration payment made to a billionaire supporter of former president Nicholas Sarkozy. (The original source for the news, the website Mediapart, cites unnamed sources as the origin of the claim.)

    The backstory: During Lagarde’s tenure as France’s finance minister, she ended a court battle between the state and Bernard Tapie, a wealthy businessman and political backer of Sarkozy. At question was his sale of a stake in Adidas to the state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais in 1993. The bank later resold the stake for more money, and Tapie cried defraudation. (Credit Lyonnais has denied wrongdoing.) Lagarde has previously said that she did nothing wrong by accepting arbitration to settle the dispute. But magistrates responsible for vetting allegations of ministerial abuse seem to suspect that Lagarde was complicit in misusing public funds—in the end, the state paid $371 million of taxpayer money to Tapie—when she pushed ahead with the arbitration. An IMF spokesman declined to comment on the case, but noted that the IMF’s executive board “continues to express its confidence in the managing director’s ability to effectively carry out her duties.”