By Omoh Gabriel with Agency report
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund and a potential candidate for the French presidency next year, was charged with attempted rape and a criminal sex act on a maid in a New York Hotel. Ms. Caroline Atkinson, Director of External Relations International Monetary Fund in a statement yesterday confirmed the development
According to her statement ‚ÄúIMF Managing Director Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York City. Mr. Strauss-Kahn has retained legal counsel, and the IMF has no comment on the case; all inquiries will be referred to his personal lawyer and to the local authorities‚Äù.
The incident allegedly occurred Saturday against a 32- year-old female at a Sofitel hotel in midtown Manhattan, the New York Police Department said. Strauss-Kahn was arrested on an Air France flight at John F. Kennedy airport. He also was charged with unlawful imprisonment. Strauss-Kahn, 62, denies the charges and will plead not guilty, his lawyer Benjamin Brafman said
He will appear in a Manhattan court later, New York Police Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told BBC television in an interview. The alleged victim is a maid at the hotel, Browne said. The assault occurred about 1 p.m. when the woman entered the $3,000 a night suite — Room 2806 — Strauss-Kahn had checked into on May 13. Strauss-Kahn is alleged to have emerged from a bathroom naked and made two attempts to forcibly have sex with the maid, Browne said.
She managed to escape from the room and notified colleagues who called the police, Browne said. When officers arrived, Strauss-Kahn was not there and appeared to have left in a hurry, Browne said.
Strauss-Kahn was arrested in the first-class section of an Air France flight when it was minutes from departing, Browne said. He spent the night in a cell in an East Harlem police station, where the Special Victims Unit that handles sexual crimes is located.
Strauss-Kahn had been scheduled to attend a meeting of euro area finance ministers in Brussels today. The meeting will take place as officials discuss the possible increase of a 110- billion euro ($155-billion) loan package to Greece amid concerns the country may be unable to return to markets to finance its debt next year. ‚ÄúFor the fund, this is terrible news at a time when its leadership needs to portray stability, wisdom, and confidence,‚Äù Bessma Momani, a professor in the department of political science at the University of Waterloo in Canada, who specializes in the IMF and its policies, said
The IMF ‚Äúremains fully functioning and operational‚Äù following Strauss-Kahn‚Äôs arrest, the Washington, DC-based organization said in a statement on its website.
‚ÄúMr. Strauss-Kahn has retained legal counsel, and the IMF has no comment on the case; all inquiries will be referred to his personal lawyer and to the local authorities,‚Äù Caroline Atkinson, the director of external relations at the IMF, said in the statement.
New York police said Strauss-Kahn doesn‚Äôt have diplomatic immunity. The French Foreign Ministry in Paris said the IMF will have to examine what immunity Strauss-Kahn may have. A French consul visited Strauss-Kahn in detention late yesterday, ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in a phone interview. Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister and member of France‚Äôs opposition Socialist Party, has consistently been among the most popular possible candidates to contest France‚Äôs 2012 presidential election, opinion polls show.
President Nicolas Sarkozy would have trailed Strauss-Kahn by 5 percentage points in the first round of the presidential voting if the election had been held at the end of last month, a CSA poll for 20 Minutes newspaper, BFM Television and RMC radio showed April 28.
Strauss-Kahn, whose term at the IMF expires next year, over the last several months has declined to say whether he was planning to run for president. The vote will be held in April and May 2012.
Any prospect of getting elected has now has vanished, said Laurent Dubois of the Paris Political Studies Institute. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a tsunami,‚Äù Dubois said in a phone interview. ‚ÄúThere is no way he can recover from this and run for president.‚Äù
This is the second time since he took the helm of the IMF in November 2007 that Strauss-Kahn has faced allegations of misconduct. In 2008, he had a relationship with Piroska Nagy, a female economist at the IMF, who quit in August of that year. An investigation by the IMF board, released in October 2008, concluded that while he had made a ‚Äúserious error of judgment,‚Äù he shouldn‚Äôt be fired.
Wife‚Äôs Support Strauss-Kahn apologized to his staff and family, which includes his third wife, French television journalist Anne Sinclair, and four children from his previous marriages.
Sinclair said she doesn‚Äôt ‚Äúfor a second‚Äù believe the accusations against her husband, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a statement from her.
‚ÄúFor fund critics and challengers of Western leadership in international financial institutions, this is emblematic of poor judgment and may further motivate them to call for serious changes in management,‚Äù Momani said. Last month, officials from the Group of 24, which includes Brazil, China and Mexico, repeated a call for ‚Äúan open, transparent, merit-based process‚Äù for choosing the heads of the World Bank and IMF, ‚Äúwithout regard to nationality.‚Äù The IMF job is traditionally held by a European, while an American leads the World Bank.