Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigns as head of IMF

Thursday, May 19, 2011

File photograph of Mr Strauss-Kahn

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has resigned as the head of the International Monetary Fund after he was arrested and charged with sexually attacking a chambermaid at a hotel in New York. In a statement to the executive board of the IMF, he said he was resigning from his position "with immediate effect" to "devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence." Officials at the IMF said they would soon be releasing information about his successor.

In the statement to the board, he said it was "with infinite sadness" that he had to resign, and paid tribute to the IMF. "To all, I want to say that I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me," he said.

The politician is currently being held at the notorious Rikers Island, where he has been put on suicide watch, after a judge at a court in Manhattan denied him bail for fears he was a flight risk after he reportedly tried to flee the country on a passenger jet. In court earlier this week, where Strauss-Kahn appeared tired, he denied the charges against him and offered $1,000,000 bail, but the judge refused.

Prosecutors allege Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted a chambermaid at a luxury hotel near Times Square. "The maid described being forcibly attacked, locked in the room and sexually assaulted," a spokesperson for the New York Police Department said.

Detectives said the politician was detained in the first class cabin of the Air France passenger plane which was minutes from leaving for Paris. Strauss-Kahn had reportedly fled the hotel "in a hurry" after the attack, leaving a number of personal effects behind. He was charged with committing a criminal sexual act, attempted rape, sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching.

Investigators have this week continued to search the hotel room where the alleged attack took place, removing a piece of carpet in the suite which they hope will prove the allegation by the chambermaid that he forced her to have oral sex. Benjamin Brafman, the lawyer defending Strauss-Kahn, said forensic evidence found in the room at the Sofitel New York hotel "will not be consistent with a forcible encounter".

Strauss-Kahn is to make another court appearance to plead for bail again this morning, Brafman said; the defence is reportedly considering telling the judge he will surrender his passport, wear an electronic tag, and remain under strict living conditions.

The IMF has said it will soon release information about Strauss-Kahn's successor; John Lipsky, the deputy head, has been acting as head since the arrest at the weekend. The incident comes at a critical time for the IMF as it tries to the financial states of struggling eurozone countries. Strauss-Kahn was meant to discuss the bailouts of Greece and Portugal with European Union financial officials at a meeting in Brussels earlier this week.

Before his arrest he was expected to announce his candicacy in the race for the French presidency, and analysts suggested he posed a real threat to Nicolas Sarkozy, but the charges will likely put and end to the hopes of his supporters.