Stephen Richard, CEO of French telecommunications conglomerate Orange, will leave the company at the end of January next year. The decision follows his sentencing earlier today. The appeals court has sentenced him to a suspended prison sentence of one year and a fine of 50,000 euros for his role in the 2008 businessman Bernard Tappy case. Richard approaches Cassation.
He is the CEO of Orange Belgium’s parent company Orange since 2011. Orange announced after a board meeting on Wednesday evening that he was leaving. Stephen Richard still had a contract until the middle of 2022. He will now leave the company once a new management is appointed, and that too on January 31. Till then he will remain in the post.
The sentence is a blot on 60-year-old Richard’s career. When his CEO mandate expires, he may end his ambition to remain chairman.
The conviction relates to facts from a time when Richard was still private secretary to the then French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde. She is now the President of the European Central Bank. Richard was found guilty of aiding Tapi, a businessman killed last month, in defrauding public funds. According to the court, Richard represented Tapi’s interests at the expense of the government. Prima facie he was acquitted.
The affair began with the sale of TAPI’s stake in the sports brand Adidas in 1993. The businessman believed that State Bank Credit Leonis had defrauded him, resulting in a protracted struggle. In 2007, Lagarde agreed to an arbitration proceeding. It earned 403 million euros a year later in compensation from the state treasury. The state did not appeal.
Lagarde had previously been found guilty of negligence, but was not sentenced.