More than two years after a general acquittal, justice ruled this Wednesday on appeal in Paris on the fate of the five men initially tried alongside Bernard Tapie in the controversial Crédit Lyonnais arbitration case in 2008. The Orange boss Stéphane Richard was sentenced to a one-year suspended sentence and a fine of 50,000 euros. He was found guilty of complicity in embezzling public funds but was released on charges of aiding and abetting fraud, the court finding he did not know the arbitration was fraudulent. The prosecution had requested a harsher sentence of three years’ imprisonment, including a firm sentence and a 100,000 euro fine.

Maurice Lantourne (Bernard Tapie’s former lawyer) received three years’ imprisonment, two of which were suspended, a fine of 500,000 euros and a five-year ban on professional practice with provisional execution. He was convicted of fraud and aiding and abetting public funds.

Pierre Estoup (the one who arbitrated the case) was also found guilty of fraud and Jean-François Rocchi, senior officials at Bercy, of complicity in the embezzlement of public funds.

The case is one of the facets of the titanic dispute that arose nearly thirty years ago between Bernard Tapie and his historic bank, Crédit Lyonnais, around the resale of sports equipment supplier Adidas in the early 1990s. following a criminal investigation opened on suspicions of “rigging” of the arbitration in favor of Bernard Carpets in the case of the credit Lyonnais, which had initially concluded with a “fault” of the former public bank.

At the end of the first trial, the court cleared Bernard Tapie and his co-defendants, ruling that there was “no evidence” to support the existence of “fraudulent schemes”. The prosecution then appealed. In the fall of 2020, a second trial began, which was quickly suspended due to the deterioration of Bernard Tapie’s state of health. Hearings had resumed in the spring of 2021 in his presence, but ended without him, again barred by illness.

The appeals court decision was originally due on October 6 but was postponed after the death three days earlier at the age of 78 of Bernard Tapie from cancer. For the businessman, the procedure remains with the acquittal pronounced in July 2019: the court of appeal noted the end of the criminal proceedings against him. The public prosecutor’s office requested a five-year suspended prison sentence and a € 300,000 fine against the former minister.