PARIS, France — The first female managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, went on trial on Monday in a French court for alleged misuse of public funds.
The charge of negligence stems from a €425 million payment to a French businessman in a 2008 lawsuit settlement against the state when she was France’s finance minister.
Lagarde was elected to the top post in the IMF in 2011 after then managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned in the face of a sex scandal.
French media has quoted Lagarde as saying she is confident she will be vindicated. She denies acting improperly by authorizing the hefty payout.
According to French 2 Television, the IMF chief said, “Negligence is a non-intentional offence. I think we are all a bit negligent sometimes in our life.”
French radio station Europe 1 reported on Monday that Lagarde’s attorney, Patrick Maisonneuve, would seek a postponement when the proceedings open on the basis that it doesn’t make sense for Lagarde to go on trial while a separate investigation in the case is still underway.
If found guilty, Lagarde could be sentenced to up to one year’s imprisonment.
While the IMF has said its executive board retains confidence in Lagarde’s ability to lead the international organization, the outcome of the matter could have serious implications for the IMF’s leadership.