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Orange’s chief executive, Stéphane Richard, will leave the French telecom group at the end of January at the latest, after he was given a one-year suspended prison sentence in a fraud case unrelated to the company.
The lengthy legal saga, involving late businessman Bernard Tapie and Richard’s time in government, lasted throughout the Orange chief executive’s tenure, even though he was acquitted of any charges. any misconduct in a previous judgment.
But Richard, who is also chairman, submitted his resignation at a board meeting on Wednesday, the company said. It will take effect when “a new governance structure is appointed and no later than January 31, 2022,” Orange added.
After a decade in this role, Richard is one of the longest-serving leaders in the European telecommunications industry and leaves at a time of turmoil and fierce competition in the industry. His assignment will end in May 2022.
Richard has harbored ambitions to continue as chairman, although he has said he will be prepared to give up his job as chief executive by then.
A French appeals court found Richard aided in fraud but found him guilty of complicity in the misuse of public funds, related to Christine Lagarde’s previous position as chief of staff when she was ministry finance chief. He was also fined €50,000.
Richard rejected the ruling and said he would appeal to France’s highest court. “In the process, the fees have changed. . . This is completely incomprehensible and deeply unfair,” he said in a statement.