© Reuters. French telecom group Orange CEO Stephane Richard arrives for a trial over a disputed state payment at the Paris courthouse

PARIS (Reuters) – A French prosecutor on Monday told judges Orange chief executive Stephane Richard should face three years in jail for his alleged involvement in a disputed compensation payment made in 2008 by the state to tycoon Bernard Tapie.

The prosecutor said 18 months of the sentence should be suspended, and that Richard should be barred from working in the public service for five years.

Richard has denied the allegations, saying he was doing his job and only played a secondary role in the arbitration process in which Tapie was awarded 403 million euros ($452 million) in the state-funded settlement.

Tapie is locked in a fight over the sale of his stake in sportswear firm Adidas (DE:) in 1993 to Credit Lyonnais, then government-owned, and the compensation he won over the transaction 15 years later.

Richard is accused of complicity over the disputed payment. He was working as chief of staff to then-finance minister Christine Lagarde when it was made.

The prosecutor is also seeking a five-year jail term for Tapie. ($1 = 0.8923 euros)

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