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Tapie trial: Maurice Lantourne drops the dress

"We are not here to try the criminal investigation, but to judge the Tapie case!" Notwithstanding this declaration of principle, Maurice Lantourne did not spare Thursday afternoon to redo the match in turn. For once, the lawyer of Bernard Tapie did not plead in dress, but in plain clothes on the bench of the defendants, pursued like his famous client for fraud and embezzlement of public funds. This did not prevent him from hammering his legal creed: "I affirm and continue to think that there was a prohibition to be a counterpart." In other words, the Credit Lyonnais would have smoked Tapie and not the other way around, thus justifying huge damages – even through adulterated arbitration.

Me Lantourne was heard religiously for several hours, without the court deigning to interrupt him, or that the civil parties (the French State, the CDR, heir public sensitive files of the bank since privatized) or the accusation (the parquet) are not distinguished by any uncomfortable or relevant question. He was able to roll out his version of the film without the slightest contradiction. This changes Bernard Tapie's previous hearings, more thunderous, polemical and therefore subject to challenge at the bar. The businessman will have listened without flinching – although frantically stamping his feet – his former lawyer, now coprevenu, summarize in his own way the confusion.

404 million damages awarded in 2008

Against the backdrop of Adidas' buy-sell, a quarter of a century ago, Me Lantourne is sure of having reason anyway. In 2005, the Paris Court of Appeal had won her case, awarding her client 135 million damages. After cassation, more on the form than on the merits, ordinary justice could have followed its natural course, before the ruling Sarkozy entrusted the dispute to private arbitration – with the result that we know: 404 million damage and interests awarded in 2008, before the award was annulled for the impartiality of one of the arbitrators, Pierre Estoup, who was also criminally prosecuted.

And yet, in 2015, the Court of Appeal, taking the hand and definitively settling the dispute in civil matters, will grant only the symbolic euro to Bernard Tapie. A misery. Because of indictment in the criminal aspect, "I regretted not being able to plead before her", says Me Lantourne, at the bar of the Paris Criminal Court. A connoisseur of the Adidas file, but also an expert in consular exercises at commercial courts, he believes that this final judicial defeat of Tapie in the Adidas dispute (to the symbolic euro), would be the result of a "Reverse jurisprudence" for the needs of the cause, who "Scandalized". At the heart of the debate, the necessary loyalty between a banker and his client, the mandated and the agent.

Remunerated 3.5 million francs

"This is the first time a bank has opposed bank secrecy to one of its own customers"he says ironically, banking omerta being proverbially reserved for the fisc or competition. But for the French justice, ruling on the civil plane, Tapie could not do not know (the hidden arrangements to transfer the capital of Adidas to offshore companies, then progressively to the businessman Robert Louis-Dreyfus). So he knew! The proof: Gilberte Beaux, a businesswoman to whom Bernard Tapie had entrusted the controls of Adidas, knew all about it. Except that the latter had at the time been paid 3.5 million francs by … Credit Lyonnais to convince Tapie to sign the deed of sale. She will eventually agree in a certificate collected years later by Maurice Lantourne. "And I'm accused of having made a fake", is indignant again this last. Next week, the Criminal Court will finally examine the merits of the criminal case: the 2008 arbitration.

Renaud Lecadre

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