Embattled IMF chief resigns

Dominique Strauss-Kahn steps down as head of International Monetary Fund, but denies allegations of sexual assault.

Strauss-Kahn faces seven counts of alleged sexual assault and could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has resigned as managing director of the International Monetary Fund, after he was charged on Monday with the alleged sexual assault and attempted rape of a maid at a New York hotel. 

The IMF’s executive board released a letter from the French executive late on Wednesday in which he denied the allegations against him, but said he felt compelled to resign “with sadness”.

“It is with infinite sadness that I feel compelled today to present to the executive board my resignation from my post of managing director of the IMF,” Strauss-Kahn said in his letter of resignation.

“To all, I want to say that I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me,” the statement added.

“I think at this time first of my wife – whom I love more than anything – of my children, of my family, of my friends.

“I think also of my colleagues at the fund; together we have accomplished such great things over the last three years and more.

“I want to protect this institution which I have served with honour and devotion, and especially – especially – I want to devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence.”

The IMF’s previous second-in-command John Lipsky will remain as acting managing director.

New bail hearing

Strauss-Kahn, a leading French politician tipped as a presidential front-runner for 2012, has been charged with sexual assault and attempted rape of a 32-year-old Manhattan hotel chambermaid.


 Strauss-Kahn’s arrest has dashed his prospects to run for the French presidency in 2012 [Reuters]

The 62-year-old strongly maintains his innocence.

He was refused bail by a judge on Monday, and is under suicide watch in an isolated cell in New York City’s Rikers Island jail, awaiting a grand jury decision on whether to indict him.

A new bail hearing has been set for Thursday and his lawyers are expected to propose a deal for $1m in bail and home detention.

Strauss-Kahn’s arrest has dashed his prospects to run as a Socialist candidate for the French presidency, and raised broader issues over the future of the International Monetary Fund.

Al Jazeera’s Cath Turner, reporting from New York, said his resignation was “an inevitable outcome”.

“Regardless of what happens in the bail hearing in New York on Thursday, there has been pressure from the White House and other European political figures who all said Strauss-Kahn cannot run the IMF at such a critical time from either a jail cell or from home,” she said. 

Meanwhile in France the opposition Socialist party has urged Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, to pressure US authorities to ensure Strauss-Kahn is given a fair trial.

Harlem Desir, spokesman for the party, said the former IMF chief should be freed so he could “organise his defence in a decent fashion”.

Timeline emerges

New details have emerged about the sequence of events surrounding the alleged sexual attack on the chambermaid.

Strauss-Kahn left the Sofitel near Times Square in Manhattan about 12:30pm local time (1630 GMT) on Saturday, and roughly an hour later hotel security called police to report an alleged sexual assault, a law enforcement source said.

New York investigators are questioning why officials at the Sofitel waited an hour to call police after the IMF chief left the hotel in a hurry, following the alleged assault.

Strauss-Khan is under suicide watch in jail, awaiting a grand jury decision on whether to indict him

He has been charged with attempted rape, sexual abuse, a criminal sexual act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. If convicted, he could face 25 years in prison. The woman he is accused of assaulting is an asylum seeker from Guinea with a 15-year-old daughter.

In the only public hint of Strauss-Kahn’s possible line of defence, his attorney Benjamin Brafman told his arraignment hearing on Monday that the evidence “will not be consistent with a forcible encounter”.

Any trial could be six months or more away.

Jose Manuel Barroso, the European commission president, said Europe would naturally put forward a candidate to replace Strauss-Kahn if he were to step down.

Germany, which wants a European to keep the job, said the IMF should deal with its immediate leadership internally and that it is too early to discuss a successor to Strauss-Kahn.

French officials said John Lipsky, the IMF’s American number two official whose term ends in August, would represent the Fund at next week’s Group of Eight summit in France.

In Strauss-Kahn’s absence, Lipsky is temporarily in charge of the IMF, which manages the world economy and is in the midst of helping euro zone states like Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies