Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director, has been found guilty of “negligence” over a huge payout to a business tycoon while she served as France’s finance minister.

However, in a boost to her hopes of keeping her post, the Court of Justice of the Republic – a special tribunal for ministers – chose not to punish her or give her a criminal record. She had faced a one-year term and a €15,000 (£13,000) fine.

The trial threatened to derail the stellar career of the first woman ever to become finance chief of a Group of Eight country. An IMF spokesman said that the body would meet soon to discuss the outcome.

The ruling came after a week-long trial in which she received a rough ride. Ms Lagarde had maintained her innocence, and the prosecutor had asked for an acquittal over the “very weak” case after advising against bringing it to court in the first place.

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