Christine Lagarde, one of the most powerful women in the world as head of the International Monetary Fund, is facing acute embarrassment after a letter in which she urged former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to "use me" was found during a police raid on her Paris flat.
An undated copy of the letter was found at Mrs Lagarde’s flat in Paris during a raid by police investigating a spiralling financial scandal surrounding payments to businessman Bernard Tapie.
"I'm on your side to serve you and serve your projects for France," she said in the letter.
"Use me during the time that suits you best and fits your action and your cast....If you decide to use me, I need you as guide and supporter: without guide, I might be ineffective, without support I might be implausible."
She signed off: “With my immense admiration, Christine L.”
She also claimed that she does not have "personal political ambitions" and remarked she does not want to become "an ambitious servant", referring to some members of Sarkozy's entourage.
Critics described the letter as a pledge of allegiance and is reported to have been written during the 2007 French Presidential campaign, when she held a relatively minor post.
The letter was leaked to French newspaper Le Monde , and its publication has caused acute embarrassment for the head of the IMF.
Ms Lagarde was finance minister during Mr Sarkozy's term as President, before stepping down to become managing director of the Washington-based IMF in 2011.
Her Paris flat was raided as part of an investigation into her handling of a 2008 compensation payment to a businessman supporter of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, her lawyer said.
Police are investigating claims that Lagarde, when French Finance Minister under Sarkozy, acted illegally in approving the €285m arbitration payout to Bernard Tapie.
Ms Lagarde denies any wrongdoing.
Mr Tapie, a controversial business figure, went to prison for match-fixing during his time as president of French football club Olympique Marseille.
Prosecutors working for the Court of Justice of the Republic suspect the arbitration was payback for supporting Mr Sarkozy in the 2007 presidential election.
The massive payout enabled Mr Tapie to clear his huge debts and tax liabilities, and reportedly left him with up to €40m.
Ms Lagarde has insisted the arbitration was vital to close a costly dispute, and has always denied having acted under orders from Sarkozy