Monday’s court ruling is largely symbolic as Christine Lagarde will not be penalized. “The decision will not be mentioned in her criminal record,” according to a court statement.
The trial, which started last week, questioned Lagarde’s role in a state payment of €400 million ($560 million) to tycoon Bernard Tapie.
It was part of a long-running dispute between the businessman and the partly state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais over the sale of his Adidas sportswear company in 1993.
Lagarde was not present at court on Monday. Her lawyer Patrick Maisonneuve said his team would look into appealing the verdict.
However, judges said Lagarde’s behavior featured “questionable carelessness”.
Lagarde had denied the charges over her role in the massive 2008 state settlement with Tapie, a close associate of then-President Nicolas Sarkozy.
“Negligence is a non-intentional offence. I think we are all a bit negligent sometimes in our life. I have done my job as well as I could, within the limits of what I knew,” she told France 2 television before the trial.
Lagarde, 60, became the managing director of the IMF in 2011 and began a second term in February this year. She is the first woman to serve as the head of the organization, which was founded in 1944.
She was tried by the Court of Justice of the Republic, a special French institution established in 1993 that hears cases against ministers accused of misconduct.
Lagarde had risked up to a year in prison and a €15,000 ($15,884) fine, besides losing her IMF position.
The IMF released a statement in which it said it would “meet again shortly to consider the most recent developments”.