18 July 2012. Miss Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), was alleged to have authorised a £270 million payout to a prominent supporter of the former French president when she was his finance minister. Lagarde and Sarkozy are facing fresh charges over the amount of compensation that Mr Sarkozy’s government should have paid following the collapse of Itea, an insurance company, in 2009. Xavier Musca, a financial expert, is said to have recommended to Miss Lagarde that Maurice Nussenbaum, another expert, receive the Legion d’Honneur, France’s top civilian award, so he would rule in the government’s favour in the trade dispute. Mr Nussenbaum later produced a report assessing the loss of Christian Laurent, who ran Itea, at zero, rather than the €400 million (£315 million) he claimed. Anti-corruption police in Paris have launched a preliminary inquiry after Mr Laurent filed a complaint against Mr Musca, who went on to become Mr Sarkozy’s chief of staff. Mr Laurent also indicated that he will take legal action against Miss Lagarde, although the complaint will have to be sanctioned by a dedicated legal body dealing with allegations against former ministers.