France Telecom CEO In Custody Over Corruption Probe

Tyler Durden's picture

The last time we encountered the name Stephane Richard, CEO of France Telecom Orange, he was deflecting poor iPhone sales on frugal customers. While we don't know if French customers have become less frugal in the past two months, we do know that Mr. Richard has bigger problems on his hands than declining top and bottom lines: such as suddenly being embroiled in the Bernard Tapie corruption scandal that previously focused on Christine Lagarde, and which this morning led to the CEO being held for questioning over his role in a 2008 arbitration process that resulted in a large pay-out to businessman Bernard Tapie, a judicial source said. "Richard was at the time head of cabinet to Christine Lagarde, who was finance minister to conservative former president Nicolas Sarkozy before she became head of the International Monetary Fund."

From FT:

Stéphane Richard, chief executive of France Telecom, was taken into custody on Monday for questioning over his role in an arbitration process that led to a €400m payout in 2008 to a prominent supporter of former President Nicolas Sarkozy at a time when Mr Richard was a top official in the finance ministry.


A court spokeswoman said Mr Richard, who has denied any wrongdoing, was placed in custody when he arrived for a scheduled hearing on the case, which involved the settlement of a dispute between the businessman Bernard Tapie and the state entity that managed the residual assets of the failed bank Credit Lyonnais.


The arbitration, which awarded €285m plus interest to Mr Tapie, ended a decades-long dispute in which he claimed he had been defrauded by Credit Lyonnais over the sale in the 1990s of Adidas, the sports goods company, which he previously owned.


The then-socialist opposition, which instigated the court action, claimed the arbitration process was rigged to reward Mr Tapie for his backing for Mr Sarkozy in the 2007 presidential election.


Mr Richard was director of cabinet to Christine Lagarde, now head of the International Monetary Fund and then finance minister, when the arbitration process took place.


* * *


Last week, Arnaud Montebourg, the industry minister, was reported as suggesting that Mr Richard should step aside at the head of France Telecom, which is 27 per cent state-owned, if the court placed him under formal examination after questioning.


Mr Richard retorted by saying he had been assured of the confidence of President François Hollande and it would be up to the board of France Telecom, which will change its name to Orange in July, to decide. The state has three representatives on the board.

In other words, from "questioning" to a pseudo-nationalized transition, in which the government does the "fair" thing and quietly takes over a domestic company, now that Montebourg ideas about nationalizing foreign companies have failed to meet with resounding success.

Which also means that a year from today, "frugal customers" will be the least of Orange's concerns even if it is presented extensively as the reason for sliding sales, as the government proves once more than when it comes to effectively crushing companies, there is no easier way than simply taking them over.

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Mongo's picture

Another one not cooperating with PRISM?

Skin666's picture

So that's why Lagarde is that shade of orange...

GetZeeGold's picture



To one in the US is in custody.


We've got one guy on the run and hopefully he called Corzine for advice.

SheepDog-One's picture

Wake me when the first corrupt criminal Bankster overlord gets arrested.

Bearwagon's picture

Prepare yourself for a long hibernation, lasting many years ...

Sudden Debt's picture

When Hitler was in power in Germany during WO2, it was illegal to help jews or speak out and legal to commit crimes against them.

When Obama was in power during the largest depression of the west, it was illegal to go against bankers and GMO mass murderers and legal to go against the constitution.

bunnyswanson's picture

An attorney I know indirectly represented an OWS member.  There were consequences to pay for his having done so.  His notoriety created an obstacle in the legal community.  I found that interest.  This is in California, Fresno.

Peter Pan's picture

Take all the sleeping pills you like. It will be a long long time.

hooligan2009's picture

you must know a lot of sheep!

digalert's picture

WTF? All corruption we've seen over the last five years, and they arrest a telephone guy?

How about a bankster for a change?

GetZeeGold's picture



Most banksters are smart enough to not say anything over the phone.

Sudden Debt's picture

He's a enemy of Apple. WELCOME TO THE BLACK LIST!!

firstdivision's picture

This is an outrage.  Fucking Socialists not allowing bribery.  That is so anti-democratic that we should "liberate" France from their opressors so that bribery....errr I mean freedom can reign.

the not so mighty maximiza's picture

France Telecom is part of the French goverment, this is just for show i think.

falak pema's picture

nope, this is an internal fight between Hollande and Sarko for 2017 elections, using the Tapie/Lagarde scandal to settle old scores; Richard being a Lagarde-Sarko henchman kicked up to now CEO of FT, he is a collateral victim in this legal shoot out.

Typical french political incestuous play. But it will clean the air and leave a lot of new wounds amongst left and right spear carriers and political postulants. Blood letting.

dunce's picture

Somehow the idea that the arbitration panel or person came to the right legal decision is not discussed. some one was offended and now some one else must face a criminal charge. Justice as defined by socialist politics.

Peter Pan's picture

You are right, but politics unfortunately is not about rights and wrongs but about winners and losers. In fact this has been the drift of society, hence the ugliness of society.

OneTinSoldier66's picture

I hear ya but we don't have society, we have central planners and central planning. Society is not based upon a 'Master Plan'.

Peter Pan's picture

Where is the 285 million euro plus interest now?
I guess I should not ask given that the man who was awarded the money previously had a running shoe company.

OneTinSoldier66's picture

Can someone remind me again, where is Jon Corzine?

Sudden Debt's picture

Jon Corizine was innocent and as we all know it was actually that guy in the mailroom who did all those evil things.

insanelysane's picture

I love the duplicity of these types of events.

Jon Corzine was at the same time, intimitely involved in the firm's trading but had no idea how much money was in the firm's accounts and where it came from.

BO and State Department on Benghazi, were at the same time, not rushing to judgement until all the facts were gathered but went on talk shows and had press releases stating it was a video.

Jayda1850's picture

I keep thinking that the more blatant the bifurcated application of law gets between the elite and the serfs, that the masses will eventually demand prosecution and justice be dealt equally. Beginning to feel like the masses just turning on one another will be the more likely scenario. God I need a drink.

OneTinSoldier66's picture

Hmmm. And I thought Mrs. Peacock did it with the Lead Pipe in the Billiard Room.


For those that don't know that's from the old game of Clue, or Cluedo. I'm showing my age. :-/

Peter Pan's picture

I just wish Corzine could tell the government how he made the money vanish so maybe it can make the nationl debt vanish as well.

On a more serious note...

It doesn't matter where Corzine is as long as you have a government shielding him.

Monedas's picture

Where's the captain of the Costa Concordia .... Francesco Shettino .... under "boat arrest" ?  Edit:  Ya know .... at first I thought it was Palistinian rogue crew member .... still may be .... but I'm "leaning" towards the more obvious .... Mafia insurance shakedown .... most expensive and stupid salvage operation in history .... cut the damn boat up for scrap !

css1971's picture

He's banged up in Guantanamo Bay, being waterboarded regularly for defrauding customers of billions of dollars. No?

NoDebt's picture

Another company found to be corrupt right at the top.  Playbook 101 says:

Change the name of the company.

Fine work, gentlemen.  Fine work.  I totally fooled into thinking it's different.

hooligan2009's picture

I note the continuing deflection of any allegations against the Head of the IMF. 

It seems that all media analysis has been silenced in that lagarde (sic).

css1971's picture

Wait... It kinda sounds like these people all know one another...