Former French minister and scandal-ridden mogul Bernard Tapie, once the owner of Adidas, was attacked along with his wife during a nightly robbery at their home, police said.
The couple were asleep when four men broke into the home in Combs-la-Ville near Paris around 12:30 a.m. local time Sunday, beat them and tied them with electrical cables before taking the stolen goods.
Dominique Tapie managed to free himself and went to a neighbor’s house, from where he called the police. Slightly injured by several blows to the face, she was taken to the hospital for a check-up. “She’s fine,” said Tapie’s grandson, Rodolphe Tapie.
During the robbery, the perpetrators pulled Dominique Tapie by the hair “because they wanted to know where the treasure was,” said Guy Geoffroy, mayor of Combs-La-Ville. “But of course there was no treasure, and the fact that they didn’t find one only made the violence worse.”
Bernard Tapie, 78, was hit on the head with a club, prosecutor Beatrice Angelelli said, but refused medical attention.
“My grandfather refused to take him away,” said Rodolphe Tapie. “He is devastated, very tired. He was sitting in a chair when they hit him with a club. “
The thieves broke into the house of Tapie, a vast estate known as the Breuil windmill, through a first-floor window, undetected by the guards. Two watches were taken, including a Rolex, earrings, bracelets and a ring, according to a source close to the investigation.
Tapie was a socialist minister who emerged from humble beginnings to build a sports and media empire, but then ran into a series of legal problems. He made a fortune in the early part of his career by taking over bankrupt companies in corporate raids, stripping them of their assets, and selling them for profit during the years of high financial deregulation in France.
He often flaunted his wealth, buying a 72-meter yacht and a football club, Olympique de Marseille, which won the French championship while he owned it. He has been under suspicion of match-fixing in France’s top soccer league. He was briefly minister of urban affairs in the government of François Mitterrand in 1992.
Tapie was found guilty in a series of corruption, tax fraud and misuse of corporate assets, went to prison for five months and was stripped of the right to stand in any election in France.
After his release from prison in 1997, Tapie added showmanship to his various activities, trying his hand at acting, singing, and hosting radio and television programs. In 2012 he became head of media, taking over the daily La Provence and other newspapers in the south of France.
A fraud case has haunted Tapie for decades, involving a 400 million euro (£ 340 million) settlement awarded to him by a government arbitration panel, the size of which shocked France. The panel found that he had been the victim of fraud when he sold his stake in Adidas in 1993 to French state bank Credit Lyonnais, which was found to have undervalued the sportswear brand.
The case also caught up with then-Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who now heads the European Central Bank. She was found guilty of “negligence.” Lagarde’s handling of the case raised suspicions that his former boss Nicolas Sarkozy, whom Tapie had endorsed for the presidency in 2007, had a favorable disposition toward the businessman, allegations that Sarkozy has vehemently denied.
Last fall, Tapie’s fraud trial was postponed due to health problems because he suffered from stomach cancer and esophageal cancer, which were getting worse. The trial will resume in May, and it will be determined that Tapie will be present, according to his lawyer.
Police are treating Sunday’s incident as a violent robbery and kidnapping, a source close to the investigation said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism