Richard future at France Telecom in doubt following investigation

13 June 2013 | Kavit Majithia


Questions have been raised over the future role of Stephane Richard at France Telecom after he was placed under formal investigation for fraud.

The investigation stems from chief executive Richard’s role in the government when he served as an aide under ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy in a 2007-2008 arbitration case, which resulted in a €285 million payout to businessman Bernard Tapie.

There are now doubts over whether Richard can remain in his post after French Digital Economy Minister Fleur Pellerin told French radio that his future at the company remains “an open question”.

The French government owns a 27% stake in the company, and it is reported that the company’s executive board will hold a meeting in the coming days to discuss the situation.

France Telecom has played down suggestions that Richard will leave, and insisted he would return to his post as normal.

Richard was put under formal investigation after three days of intense questioning, and the case relates to a bank’s role in the sale of Tapie’s stake in sports firm Adidas in 1993.

Richard served as a top aide to former finance minister Christine Lagarde in 2008 when the government awarded Tapie damages against French bank Credit Lyonnais.

It is reported that Richard plans to appeal the decision.