French tycoon acquitted of fraud in huge arbitration case

PARIS (AP) — A court has acquitted French tycoon Bernard Tapie of fraud over a 404 million-euro ($452.5 million at the current exchange rate) payment linked to the sale of sportswear company Adidas in the 1990s.

Tapie, who has been battling cancer, was not present for Tuesday’s verdict.

He has previously suspended treatments to fight the accusations, which could have seen him face five years in prison.

The payout to Tapie came from state funds, prompting public indignation and questions about whether he benefited from political connections, including with then-president, Nicolas Sarkozy.

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In 2016, a special court convicted then-finance minister Christine Lagarde of negligence in her management of the 2008 arbitration but didn’t level any punishment.

Tapie, a former urban affairs minister, once owned the Marseille soccer team.

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