Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, has gone on trial accused of negligence over a €400m (£335m) payment made to a French tycoon while she was the country’s finance minister, The Guardian reports.


Lagarde approved the payment from public funds to the businessman Bernard Tapie, who was a friend of the then president, Nicolas Sarkozy. 


This “negligence by a person in a position of public authority” constituted a misuse of public funds, according to prosecutors.


Lagarde, who arrived for the hearing shortly before 2pm, faces up to a year in jail and a €15,000 fine if convicted.


The president of the court asked Lagarde how she intended to defend herself and if she wished to exercise her right to remain silent. “I have no intention of keeping silent, madame la presidente,” Lagarde replied.

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