French court postpones decision on Lagarde probe

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French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde speaks during a press conference at the French Embassy in Beijing Thursday, June 9, 2011. Lagarde said Thursday she is "very positive" about her talks in China where she is seeking support for her campaign to head the International Monetary Fund. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

PARIS (AP) — A French court has postponed a decision on whether to open an investigation into Christine Lagarde, the country's finance minister and front-runner to take the helm at the International Monetary Fund, a judicial official said Friday.

The Court of Justice of the Republic, a special tribunal that handles legal matters involving government ministers, will announce its decision on July 8 instead of Friday, as had initially been expected, the official said. She was speaking on condition of anonymity, in accordance with French judicial policy.

Questions have been raised about Lagarde's role in getting arbitration in 2008 for French businessman Bernard Tapie, who won euro285 million ($449 million) as compensation for the mishandling of the sale of sportswear maker Adidas.

Lagarde has denied any wrongdoing.

She's on a world tour to support her bid to be the next managing director of the IMF. She was recently in China, India and Brazil and is expected to make stops in Saudi Arabia and Egypt over the weekend.

The other declared candidate for the top post — vacated by Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who quit after he was charged last month with sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid — is Mexico's central bank governor, Agustin Carstens.

Nominations for managing director close Friday, and the body's 24-member executive board is to vote June 30.

In a separate decision, the French court announced it was dropping a complaint against another top official, Interior Minister Claude Gueant.

An anti-racism group had filed a complaint against Gueant, accusing him of "inciting racial hatred" for recent comments about the rising number of Muslims in France.