French Businessman Losing Assets to the State in Investigation into Possible Arbitration Fraud
Authorities are in the process of seizing several assets belonging to Bernard Tapie, a French businessman at the center of an investigation by the French government. Tapie’s villa in the Mediterranean is among other assets being seized in connection with a fraud investigation connected with an arbitration award that was in his favor against a state-owned bank. The investigation has made headlines and has threatened the political strength and immunity of Nicolas Sarkozy, who was France’s finance minister when the arbitration hearing took place.
The assets being confiscated are estimated to be worth tens of millions of euros. The potentially fraudulent arbitration award that is being called into question was in the amount of 285 million euros plus interest. The current government is investigating allegations that the arbitration ruling was rigged by Sarkozy in exchange for political support when Sarkozy became president.
According to the current French Finance Minister, Pierre Moscovici, the confiscations were part of “protective measures” being taken by the newly-elected Socialist government in the event that reparations needed to be made to the state. However, Tapie has denied that he is guilty of any such fraudulent activity and that the arbitration award was given to him to settle a longstanding dispute he had with Credit Lyonnais over an investment deal.
70-year-old Tapie supported Sarkozy during his last two elections, which has called into question the truth behind the allegations of payment for political support. After interest and before taxes, Tapie has received approximately 403 million from the now-defunct bank.