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Bernard Tapie ordered to repay €403 million to French government

The Paris Court of Appeal has dismissed a demand for more than one million euros from the French state by businessman Bernard Tapie, and instead ruled that he must repay a previous €403 million award, Reuters has said04 Dec 2015

In the latest stage of a long-term dispute, the court said that Tapie had not been misled by the now-defunct Crédit Lyonnais bank over the sale of sports company Adidas in 1992, and was not entitled to compensation.

The Court of Appeal previously overturned the €403 million award in favour of Tapie in February, saying that it was invalid and "tainted with fraud" due to the role played by one of the three arbitrators involved.

The 'Affaire Tapie' began in 1992, when Bernard Tapie joined the French government and was instructed to sell off some of his businesses and assets, including sporting goods company Adidas.

The bank Crédit Lyonnais was asked to manage the sale of assets. However, it bought Adidas itself, then sold it one year later for double the price.

Tapie accused the bank of fraud, and of undervaluing Adidas. In the course of the court case that followed, Crédit Lyonnais ceased to exist, and Tapie's opponent became the French state itself in the form of Consortium de Réalisation.

In October 2007, Christine Lagarde, then French minister of finance, asked the Consortium de Réalisation to settle the Tapie case quickly through the use of a private arbitration tribunal. A private arbitration tribunal was set up to finally settle the case, and in July of the following year, Tapie was awarded €403 million.

In 2013, the Consortium de Réalisation brought a 'recourse of judicial review' before the Paris Court of Appeal, on the basis of fraudulent arbitration proceedings. One arbitrator, Pierre Estoup, had systematically directed the reflection of the tribunal in favour of the interests of the party that he intended to promote by collusion with Tapie and his counsel, the court found.

Tapie's lawyer Emmanuel Gaillard dismissed the latest ruling as a "denial of justice" and said he will look at ways to lodge an appeal.