Former IMF chief held in New York safe house

Dominique Strauss-Kahn kept under round-the-clock armed guard in Manhattan safe house, pending formal plea on June 6.

    Strauss-Kahn was granted a $1m bail deal by a New York court [Reuters]

    Fallen IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been moved to a temporary safe house in New York where he will be held under round-the-clock armed guard.

    Strauss-Kahn, indicted for allegedly trying to rape a hotel housekeeper last Saturday, left New York's Rikers Island jail on Friday after a judge said bail conditions had been met.

    Photographers gathered outside an apartment building in the city's financial district where he was expected.

    A man held up a placard on which was scribbled "DSK, Not In My Backyard" - referring to Strauss-Kahn's initials.

    Strauss-Kahn, 62, later arrived at another building on Broadway, in the same area, a police source said, to spend a few days before a more permanent home is found for him in the city during potentially long legal proceedings.

    He will be subject to electronic monitoring around the clock and must wear a tracking device on his ankle.

    His accuser is a 32-year-old widow, originally from Guinea in West Africa, who reportedly told authorities that Strauss-Kahn accosted her after she entered his hotel room to clean it.

    Strauss-Kahn is charged with seven counts including four felony charges - two of criminal sexual acts, one of attempted rape and one of sexual abuse - plus three misdemeanour offences, including unlawful imprisonment.

    The former IMF chief denies the allegations, and is set to enter a formal plea on 6 June.

    He spent four nights at the notorious Rikers Island jail since his arrest on Saturday over the alleged incident at the Sofitel hotel.

    Succession race

    Christine Lagarde, France's finance minister, emerged on Friday as Europe's likely choice to lead the International Monetary Fund.

    The IMF insists the departure of Strauss-Kahn has not hurt its day-to-day operations, but it is clearly under pressure to find a successor fast to lead an organisation that provides billions in loans to stabilise the world economy.

    The 24-member executive board, which will pick Strauss-Kahn's successor, outlined late on Friday the procedures it will use to pick the next IMF leader.

    Nominations will be accepted starting on Monday until June 10, after which the board will choose the top three candidates to interview.

    While the nominations will be secret, the board said it would release the names of the three top candidates as chosen by the board. That change could be an effort to address the complaints of critics that the process has been too secret in the past. The board said it hoped to select the next IMF director by June 30.

    Lagarde's chances for the top IMF job got a boost on Friday when Kemal Dervis, a former finance minister for Turkey, said he did not want to be considered for the position.

    Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement on Friday that the United States was consulting broadly with IMF member countries "from emerging markets as well as advanced economies" during the search process for a new IMF leader.

    A treasury official on Thursday said the United States had not decided whether to support Lagarde or a non-European for the job.

    The IMF may face a choice between naming its first woman leader or its first leader from the developing world. Emerging economies see Europe's traditional stranglehold on the position as increasingly out of touch with the world economy, but have not yet united around a candidate.

    Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said on Friday that she "very much appreciates the French finance minister". She insisted she was not announcing Lagarde's candidacy, just sharing her views.

    With Dervis withdrawing from consideration, remaining candidates from outside the EU include Thurman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore's finance chief, and Montek Singh Ahluwalia, an Indian economist.

    Poland said it may propose its own candidate, former Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz, who turned Poland's post-communist economy into a market-driven one.

    Gordon Brown, Britain's former Labour prime minister, also ruled himself out on Friday.

    "No I am not pitching for the job," he said while visiting a primary school in Soweto, South Africa. Another potential candidate, Mohamed El-Erian, the head of bond giant PIMCO, has also taken himself out of the running. In a commentary posted by the company, he said, "I will not be a part of the process; I already have a great job, here in California."

    Together, the US and Europe control more than 50 per cent of the votes on the IMF's board. A simple majority is all that is required to select the group's leader.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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