Sunday 23 April 2017

DSK gets $1m bail as race hots up to take top IMF job

The former IMF chief listening to the court proceedings. Photo: Getty Images
The former IMF chief listening to the court proceedings. Photo: Getty Images

Basil Katz in New York

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was granted bail yesterday but faced another night in a New York jail, hours after he quit as head of the IMF under the cloud of sex crime charges.

His resignation intensified a diplomatic race for global finance's top job which has gone exclusively to Europe for the past 65 years but is now in the sights of fast-growing developing economies.

A judge granted Mr Strauss-Kahn $1m (€690,000) bail and ordered him to be detained in a New York apartment. He will be subject to electronic monitoring and under the watch of an armed guard, costing him $200,000 (€139,000) a month, a prosecutor said.

Prosecutors argued vehemently the French national should remain behind bars, calling him a flight risk.

Compelling

"The investigation is in the early stages and the evidence against him is substantial and is continuing to grow every day," said prosecutor John McConnell.

He said the hotel maid who accused Mr Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her on Saturday, a 32-year-old immigrant from Guinea, had told a "compelling and unwavering story."

The bail terms were sufficient to ensure "that you will be here when we need you to be," New York Supreme Court Judge Michael Obus told the 62- year-old who has been in custody since police pulled him off an Air France plane on Saturday.

The case represents a spectacular fall from grace for a man who only a week ago was held in high esteem for his role in tackling the financial crisis of 2007-09 and was central to ongoing efforts to keep Europe's debt crisis under control.

The charges that Mr Strauss-Kahn tried to rape the maid and committed other sex offenses, plus the prospect of a lengthy legal process, have ruined his once strong-looking chances of winning France's presidential election next year.

A lawyer for Mr Strauss-Kahn denied he posed a flight risk.

"I have to say that the prospect of Mr Strauss-Kahn teleporting himself to France and living there as an accused sex offender, fugitive, is ludicrous on its face," lawyer William Taylor told the judge.

In his resignation letter, composed at New York's notorious Rikers Island jail and released by the International Monetary Fund, Mr Strauss-Kahn vowed to fight the charges.

"I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me," he wrote. "I want to devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence."

He faced one more night behind bars before his bail package was due to be signed today. An arraignment hearing, when he is due to formally answer the charges, was set for June 6.

Any trial could be six months or more away. If convicted, Mr Strauss-Kahn could face 25 years in prison.

Dressed in a blue shirt and gray jacket, Mr Strauss-Kahn looked tired and whispered occasionally to his lawyer during yesterday's proceedings.

He was flanked by seven guards.

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde emerged as the the favourite to be the next managing director of the IMF even as China and other leading economies stepped up their challenge to Europe's grip on the top job. US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called for an "open process".

The US is also likely to favour a European replacement because it would be difficult for developing nations to unify around a rival candidate.

Irish Independent

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