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IMF backs Lagarde over probe, says preferred creditor status not at risk in Greece

By Sandrine Rastello

The International Monetary Fund’s board of directors is backing Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who is being questioned by a French court over a decision she made as finance minister, a fund spokesman said.

“The executive board has been briefed on this matter, including recently, and continues to express its confidence in the managing director’s ability to effectively carry out her duties,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters at a press conference in Washington.

Lagarde, who was finance minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy and has denied any wrongdoing, arrived for the questioning in Paris today. The Cour de Justice de la Republique, which focuses on ministers’ actions in office, is looking into whether she erred in agreeing to an arbitration to end a dispute involving business tycoon Bernard Tapie, an ally of Sarkozy, that awarded him about $500 million.

Rice also said Lagarde’s immunities were waived “some time ago” at her request “to the extent necessary to enable her to appear before the French judicial authorities in this matter.”

Separately, Rice said the fund is still awaiting a revised economic program from the Egyptian authorities before scheduling any visit to discuss a loan.

Asked whether the IMF’s preferred creditor status in being put in question in Greece, Rice said that such status “is not under discussion in Greece or anywhere else.”

[Bloomberg]

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