Former French minister and scandal tycoon Bernard Tapie, the former owner of Adidas, was attacked along with his wife during a nightmare in their home near Paris, police said on Sunday.
The couple was asleep when four men broke into their house in Combs-la-Ville near Paris around 00:30 (2230 GMT on Saturday) on Sunday, beat them and tied them with power cables before shutting off their loot.
Dominique Tapie managed to free herself and went to a neighboring home where she could call the police. Slightly injured by several blows to the face, she was taken to hospital for a check-up but was expected to be released quickly.
“She’s fine,” Tapie’s granddaughter Rodolphe Tapie told AFP.
Jewelry and a Rolex
Tapie himself, who is 78 years old, received a blow to the head with a club, prosecutor Beatrice Angelelli told AFP, but he refused to be taken to media care.
“My grandfather refused to be removed,” said Rodolphe Tapie. “He is crushed, very tired. He was sitting on a chair when he fought with a club.”
The burglars got rid of two watches, including a Rolex, earrings, bracelet and a ring, according to a source close to the investigation.
Tapie is a former socialist minister who rose from the humble beginnings to build a sports and media empire, but who later faced a series of legal problems.
He made a fortune early in his career by taking over failed companies with alleged dubious methods, and often flagged his wealth, including by buying a 72-meter yacht and a football club, Olympique de Marseille, which won the French championship while he was their owner.
He has also been under suspicion of matching in France’s best football league.
He was briefly Minister for Urban Affairs in Francois Mitterrand’s government in 1992.
Many legal problems
Tapie was found guilty in a number of cases of corruption, tax fraud and misuse of corporate assets, imprisoned for five months and abolished the right to participate in elections in France.
After he was released from prison in 1997, Tapie added showbiz to his various activities, tried his hand at acting and hosting radio and television programs.
In 2012, he also became a media boss and took over the southern French daily La Provence and other newspapers.
A fraud case has guessed Tapie for decades and involved a hugely controversial € 400 million settlement ($ 470 million at current interest rates) awarded to him by a government arbitration panel, the size of which sent shock waves through France.
The panel found that he had been the victim of fraud when he sold his stake in Adidas’ sportswear company in 1993 to the French state bank Credit Lyonnais, which turned out to have undervalued the sportswear brand.
“Determined” to stand trial
The case also anchored the then Minister of Finance Christine Lagarde, who now runs the European Central Bank. She has been found guilty of “negligence” in the case.
Lagarde’s handling of the case raised suspicions that her former boss Nicolas Sarkozy, whom Tapie had supported as president in 2007, was positive about the businessman – accusations Sarkozy has vehemently denied.
In the autumn, Tapie’s right to fraud was managed due to ill health due to his suffering from a double stomach cancer and esophageal cancer which worsened.
The trial is set to resume in May, with Tapie “determined” to be present, according to his lawyer.
Police are treating Sunday’s incident as a violent robbery and kidnapping, a source close to the investigation told AFP.