The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, was found guilty of misusing public funds on Monday. Her charges stem from her actions while working as France’s foreign minister during the financial crisis of 2008; they do not apply to her work for the IMF. However, this reprimand is a strong blow to a key global institution while the backlash against global market integration and international cooperation towards resolving crises is already formidable.
It remains to be seen if Lagarde will step down from the IMF to try and preserve faith in the institution. After all, she only recently began her second five-year term this summer and the long-pending court challenge was already a known factor during her confirmation. Moreover, the special court which handed down the verdict did not include any fines, jail time, or other penalization – prompting critics of the verdict to declare the action a meaningless political gesture. Even if the guilty verdict is an only toothless protest vote, it is still indicative of the eroding faith in the financial elite.