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Last Updated: Friday, 30 September 2005, 19:56 GMT 20:56 UK
Flamboyant Tapie wins bank case
Bernard Tapie
A good day for the maverick tycoon
French taxpayers must pay out 135m euros (92m; $162m) to maverick former business tycoon Bernard Tapie over the sale of his Adidas empire a decade ago.

A French court found in favour of Mr Tapie, who claimed he was defrauded by the Credit Lyonnais bank in 1993-94 when it sold Adidas on his behalf.

At the time Credit Lyonnais was state-owned, so liabilities fall into the lap of taxpayers.

"Justice has recognised that I was robbed," Mr Tapie said.

A court in France heard that that Mr Tapie has agreed with Credit Lyonnais to sell Adidas for the equivalent of about 400 million euros.

But it was alleged that the bank had secretly agreed to sell the firm on to a businessman for a much higher price two years later.

This saw Credit Lyonnais reaping millions from the deal.

Mr Tapie argued that he would have sold Adidas directly to the businessman had he known about the bank's intentions.

The court ruled that Credit Lyonnais was in breach of its obligations and ordered the state to pay Mr Tapie 135 million euros.


Aside from running his Adidas empire, Bernard Tapie has had a chequered career which has seen him at the helm of Olympic Marseille football club and in a ministerial position under former President Francois Mitterrand.

What is important is not the money
Bernard Tapie

Then his career hit a brick wall when he was disgraced after being found guilty on match-fixing charges and corruption.

After serving a seven-month term in jail in 1997, Mr Tapie launched himself into the media spotlight as a chat show host.

Since his bankruptcy in the mid 1990s, the flamboyant mogul has been forced to surrender 80% of his income to pay off his companies' debts.

And despite the success of his latest court appearance, Mr Tapie still faces charges of tax fraud relating to his business empire which he must answer in coming weeks.

Commenting after Friday's ruling, Mr Tapie said "What is important is not the money.

"It is the fact that the ruling states clearly that Credit Lyonnais did something indefensible and robbed me."

Credit Lyonnais declined to comment on the court's judgement.

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