France Telecom-Orange CEO Richard arrested in 'Tapie Affair' investigation

Stephane Richard, CEO of incumbent telco France Telecom-Orange, is being questioned by Paris police over his involvement in the "Tapie Affair" investigation, reports The Wall Street Journal. No charges have been filed.

The arrest of Orange's CEO is part of the French government's investigation into what is referred as "L'Affaire Tapie." At issue is French officials' granting arbitration to financier Bernard Tapie in his legal dispute with Paris bank Credit Lyonnais over their sale of athletic wear company Adidas in 1993.

Richard was chief of staff to Finance Minister Christine Lagarde prior to taking the reins at Orange. Lagarde moved Tapie's legal issue to an arbitration court, which granted him €420 million ($555.2 million).

Citing a person close to the inquiry, the WSJ reported that Richard is being questioned about his role in developing the government arbitration panel. In January, authorities informally questioned Richard and police searched his home.

Richard could be released within 48 hours if the police do not file charges.

According to a report in the International Business Times, there has been speculation that Tapie received more money in arbitration than he would have gotten if the issue was settled in a traditional court, and had a political connection due to Taipe's support of the 2007 election of France's president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Lagarde, who now oversees the International Monetary Fund, has been named as a material witness.

For more:
- The Wall Street Journal has this article
- International Business Times has this article

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