Lagarde to face trial for negligence as court rejects appeal

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde will face a trial in France over a massive state payout to tycoon Bernard Tapie made when she was finance minister, after the country's highest appeals court rejected her request not to go to court for alleged negligence resulting in the misuse of public funds.

She is accused of improperly approving a 400-million-euro out-of-court payout for settlement of a dispute with businessman Bernard Tapie when she was France's economy minister.

Lagarde will be tried on 12 December for negligence by the Court of Justice of the Republic -- a tribunal that hears cases against ministers accused of wrongdoing in the discharge of their duties.

The trial could last until 20 December. The present IMF boss, who has repeatedly protested her innocence, risks up to a year in prison and a fine of 15,000 euros if found guilty.

Tapie, a supporter of Conservative former President Nicolas Sarkozy is awaiting the outcome of an appeal against an order to reimburse the French state.

The case goes back to when Tapie sued the state for compensation after selling his stake in sports company Adidas to Credit Lyonnais in 1993.

Tapie, a Sarkozy supporter, sued the French state in 1993 after selling a stake in Adidas to Credit Lyonnais. The bank was owned by the state at the time.

He says Credit Lyonnais defrauded him when it resold the stake at a far higher price, a claim denied by the bank, which has since been bought and reorganized.

Lagarde has not been accused of profiting from the Tapie case, which has been moving through the French courts for years. The issue is whether she gave him preferential treatment.