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Orange CEO Stéphane Richard will leave the French Telecom group by the end of January at the latest, after he was sentenced to a one-year probation for a fraud case unrelated to the company.

Long-term legal legends related to the late businessmen Bernard Tapie and Richard’s government positions have long plagued the executive’s tenure in Orange, despite his He was found not guilty in an earlier verdict.

But the company said that Richard, who is also chairman, handed in his resignation at the board meeting on Wednesday. Orange added that it will take effect “by January 31, 2022 at the latest after the appointment of the new governance structure.”

After ten years in this position, Richard became one of the longest-serving leaders in the European telecommunications industry and left amidst the turmoil and fierce competition in the industry. His term will end in May 2022.

Richard has the ambition to continue as chairman, although he has said that he will be prepared to abandon the CEO position by then.

A French court of appeal ruled that Richard did not assist in fraud, but found that he was guilty of complicity in the misuse of public funds, which is related to Christina Lagarde’s position as chief of staff when she was minister of finance. He was also fined 50,000 euros.

Richard rejected the verdict and said he would appeal to the French Supreme Court. “In the process, the allegations have changed… This is totally incomprehensible and extremely unfair,” he said in a statement.

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