A French court on Tuesday cleared Orange CEO Stephane Richard of any wrongdoing in a fraud trial.
The court acquitted Stephane Richard of complicity in fraud for allegedly misinforming and disobeying France’s then finance minister Christine Lagarde in 2008, when he was her chief of staff.
Stephane Richard called the verdict an immense relief.
France is Orange’s biggest shareholder. France Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire repeated the government position that bosses of state-controlled companies should quit if convicted of a crime.
Stephane Richard would have faced up to three years in jail if he had been found guilty of involvement in a disputed 400 million euro or $448 million compensation payment made by the state to tycoon Bernard Tapie. Bernard Tapie who was also cleared of all charges.
Stephane Richard, who was given a third four-year mandate as Orange CEO last year, consistently denied the charges against him.
Stephane Richard is credited with improving revenues and market share of Orange in the competitive French telecoms market and restoring relations with unions.