The French government has agreed to pay the flamboyant former businessman Bernard Tapie 285 million euros, ending a 13-year row over the sale of his Adidas sports group.
Ministers have dropped their challenge to a ruling that the state must reimburse Tapie following the collapse of the publicly-owned Credit Lyonnais Bank, which had undervalued Adidas when it was sold in the early 1990s.
“The majority of the advice I was given went along the lines of – you don’t have much chance of success if you appeal. So what were we to do..we want to turn the page and finish with all these cases dating back to the Mitterrand era.” said Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.
Tapie claimed he was defrauded by the Credit Lyonnais, and won a previous case in 2005. That court heard that Tapie agreed to sell Adidas for 400 million euros, but that the bank had arranged for another businessman to take control of it two years later for a much higher price. Tapie argued he would have sold Adidas directly if he had known about the higher offer.
The decision has drawn strong criticism from the opposition: “The government, the powers-that-be, even the President of the Republic have been implicated in this and the French people are owed an explanation.” said centrist opposition leader Francois Bayrou.
In addition to his political career, 65-year-old Tapie has owned the Olympique de Marseille football team and spent time in jail for match fixing, before reinventing himself as an actor and television presenter.
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