The French, I-don’t-know-what-you-call-him, Bernard Tapie, is preparing for more court time after The Guardian reports he will be in the dock on charges relating to embezzlement and misuse of public funds.
My mother is giving my boy £50 for Christmas. I’m getting £100. My boy is 16, and I’m 42. As a child of four, growing up on a council estate in Reddish, Stockport, I never got much at Crimbo. There was no gratitude for what I did get, only complaints about what I didn’t get.
So, here we are, having a transatlantic phone conversation about materialism, wealth, and mean as fuck fathers who suddenly mellow out during old age.
“How much will an extra million increase your happiness if you already have multi-millions,” I ask my son.
The lad thinks hard about it, “It depends on what you want to buy?”
In 2011, the French jack of all trades master of none, Bernard Tapie, wanted to buy Full Tilt Poker (FTP), and he was a man who had many millions. Is he happy? I don’t know. But I do know his levels of happiness are about to change considerably.
How Much Tea Can You Buy With €280m
As I count the quarters and dimes needed to buy an Organic Chai Tea, I wonder what I would do if someone suddenly thrust €280 million into my bank account.
That very thing happened to Tapie in 2007, when the then Finance Minister, and current head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, intervened in a dispute between Tapie and Crédit Lyonnais.
In the early 90s, Tapie sold his majority share in Adidas to the historic French bank, to prevent any conflict of interest as he moved into a government position. The bank went on to sell the shares at a much higher price leading Tapie to feel like they had swizzed him.
Tapie pursued legal action.
In 2008, Lagarde intervened, set up a private arbitration, where three judges ordered an out of court settlement of €400m from the French Treasury (Tapie received €280m after paying his costs and taxes).
It was a controversial move and one that a French court of law recently found Lagarde negligent of, despite refusing to fine her, jail her, or remover from her position with the IMF.
In 2015, the French government put their foot on Tapie’s rocking chair. The news that he would have to pay back the €280m woke him up. His legal team has been preparing for their time in court on ever since.
This morning The Guardian reported that Tapie will face trial for embezzlement and misuse of public funds along with six other people, including the former chief of staff Stéphane Richard, now head of telecoms giant Orange.
Investigators believe the government handed him the €400m under the then president Nicolas Sarkobsky’s orders, in return for Tapie support during his presidential campaign.
In 1993, a judge handed Tapie a two-year prison sentence for match-fixing when the owner of Olympique Marseille football club in the year they won the Champions League and Ligue 1 double.
Tapie’s son, Laurent Tapie, was one of the minds behind The International Stadiums Poker Tour (ISPT). The only event organiser to ever hold a live poker tournament on the hallowed turf of Wembley Stadium. I reckon he got a little more than £100 at Christmas.