First female head of the IMF, first woman to head a G8 economy
"Christine Lagarde is a French lawyer and politician who has been the Managing Director (MD) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since 5 July 2011.
Previously, she held various ministerial posts in the French government: she was Minister of Economic Affairs, Finance and Employment, Minister of Agriculture and Fishing and Minister of Trade in the government of Dominique de Villepin. Lagarde was the first woman to become finance minister of a G8 economy and is the first woman to head the IMF.
A noted anti-trust and labour lawyer, Lagarde was the first female chair of the international law firm Baker & McKenzie between 1999 and 2004... Lagarde joined Baker & McKenzie, a large Chicago-based international law firm, in 1981. She handled major antitrust and labour cases, was made partner after six years and was named head of the firm in Western Europe. She joined the executive committee in 1995 and was elected the company's first female Chairman in October 1999…
In 2004, Lagarde became president of the global strategic committee…
As France's Trade Minister between 2005 and May 2007, Lagarde prioritized opening new markets for the country's products, focusing on the technology sector. On 18 May 2007, she was moved to the Ministry of Agriculture as part of the government of François Fillon. The following month she joined François Fillon's cabinet in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Finance and Employment to become the first woman in charge of economic policy in France. She was the only member of the French political class to condemn Jean-Paul Guerlain's racist remarks of 2010…
On 16 November 2009, the Financial Times ranked her the best Minister of Finance in the Eurozone.
On 28 June 2011, she was named as the next MD of the IMF for a five-year term, starting on 5 July 2011, replacing Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Her appointment is the 11th consecutive appointment of a European to head the IMF. In 2014, Lagarde was ranked the 5th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine. She was re-elected by consensus for a second five-year term, starting 5 July 2016, being the only candidate nominated for the post of managing director.
On 25 May 2011, Lagarde announced her candidacy to be head of the IMF to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn upon his resignation. Her candidacy received the support of the British, Indian, United States, Brazilian, Russian, Chinese and German governments. The Governor of the Bank of Mexico (and former Mexican Secretary of Finance) Agustín Carstens was also nominated for the post. His candidacy was supported by many Latin American governments, as well as Spain, Canada and Australia.
On 28 June 2011, the IMF board elected Lagarde as its next managing director and chairman for a five-year term, starting on 5 July 2011. The IMF's executive board praised both candidates as well-qualified, but decided on Lagarde by consensus. Lagarde became the first woman to be elected as the head of the IMF. Carstens would have been the first non-European. Her appointment came amid the intensification of the European sovereign debt crisis especially in Greece, with fears looming of loan defaults. The United States in particular supported her speedy appointment in light of the fragility of Europe's economic situation.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that Lagarde's "exceptional talent and broad experience will provide invaluable leadership for this indispensable institution at a critical time for the global economy." Nicolas Sarkozy referred to Lagarde's appointment as "a victory for France." Oxfam, a charity working in developing nations, called the appointment process "farcical" and argued that what it saw as a lack of transparency hurt the IMF's credibility.
On 3 August 2011, a French court ordered an investigation into Lagarde's role in a €403 million arbitration deal in favour of businessman Bernard Tapie. On 20 March 2013, Lagarde's apartment in Paris was raided by French police as part of the investigation. On 24 May 2013, after two days of questioning at the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), Lagarde was assigned the status of "assisted witness", meaning that she was not herself under investigation in the affair. According to a press report from June 2013, Lagarde has been described by Stéphane Richard, the CEO of France Telecom (a former aide to Lagarde when she was Finance Minister), who has himself been put under formal investigation in the case, as having been fully briefed before approving the arbitration process which benefitted Bernard Tapie. Subsequently, in August 2014 the CJR announced that it had formally approved a negligence investigation into Lagarde's role in the arbitration of the Tapie case. On 17 December 2015, the CJR ordered Lagarde to stand trial before it for alleged negligence in handling the Tapie arbitration approval. In December 2016, the court found Lagarde guilty of negligence, but declined to impose a penalty.” (1)
Lagarde has been honored with the Order of Légion d'honneur (officer) and the Ordre du Merite agricole (commander).