Thursday, 19 May 2011

IMF Chief Resigns Amidst Criminal Accusations

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International Monetary Fund Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn finally resigned on Wednesday after harsh accusations several days ago of sexual assault from a housekeeper in a midtown Manhattan hotel room propelled him to the center of controversy.

The New York Times reports, “His resignation comes four days after Mr. Strauss-Kahn was taken off an Air France plane at Kennedy International Airport and arrested in connection with the accusations, and a day after Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary, called for his resignation.”

According to the 32-year-old maid, an immigrant from the West African nation of Guinea, the 62-year-old Strauss-Kahn came out of the bathroom naked and chased her around the room until he captured her and forced her to perform oral sex on him. He then tried to remove her underwear, but she managed to break free and exit the hotel room.

Later, the New York Post uncovered a new development in the case: The hotel maid that accused Strauss-Kahn of the charges lives in an apartment building in the Bronx that is reserved for those with HIV/AIDS:

The hotel maid, a West African immigrant, has occupied the fourth-floor High Bridge pad with her 15-year-old daughter since January — and before that, lived in another Bronx apartment set aside by Harlem Community AIDS United strictly for adults with the virus and their families.

The Post has not been able to ascertain whether the maid, 32, has HIV/AIDS because of medical confidentiality laws.

But the agency rents apartments only for adults with the disease. A Harlem United worker said at least one adult in the household has to be HIV-positive or have AIDS to qualify for one of their units. A healthy adult with a child with HIV or AIDS is not eligible.

The development is noteworthy, because the chambermaid claimed that she was forced to perform oral sex on the IMF Chief. The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates, “It is possible for either partner to become infected with HIV through performing or receiving oral sex.”

In addition to claims by the chambermaid, 31-year-old author Tristane Banon has now come out and accused Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape over a decade ago, and has indicated that she may report him to the police in Paris.

Strauss-Kahn’s resignation came in the form of a statement issued on Wednesday that read, “It is with inifinite sadness that I feel compelled today to present to the Executive Board my resignation from my post of managing director of the I.M.F. I think at this time first of my wife — whom I love more than anything — of my children, of my family, of my friends.”

The statement adds:

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

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.

While Strauss-Kahn is facing charges of attempted rape, false imprisonment, and assault, 57 percent of French citizens believe he is being set up. Mail Online reports:

Many in his home country are standing by the 62-year-old and have questioned the testimony of the chamber maid, offering all kinds of conspiracy theories.

Former culture minister Jack Lang even described the treatment of Strauss-Kahn as a "lynching" that had "provoked horror and aroused disgust."

Some contend that Strauss-Kahn may be the victim of a setup as he has been considered a potential candidate for the French presidency. ITN News indicates that Strauss-Kahn’s supporters bemoan “the indelicate NYPD handling” of the IMF chief. Additionally, the news report indicates that outrage in France increased because Strauss-Kahn has been “paraded before the cameras” and because he has been forced to “perform what’s called a ‘perp walk’ before he has had a chance to defend himself in court.”

The former IMF chief has been ordered to be held without bail and has been placed under suicide watch at Rikers Island prison.

One correction officer explained, “He did not attempt to commit suicide. He went through an evaluation by a shrink, and they put him on watch.”

If Strauss-Kahn does manage to be acquitted of the charges against him in criminal court, it seems likely that a civil suit will follow.

Meanwhile, in the midst of this controversy, the world awaits Strauss-Kahn’s replacement in the IMF. The Washington Post wrote that the fight to succeed the IMF chief is “shaping up as a bare-knuckled match between the developed nations that pay the agency’s bills and the developing nations that are reshaping the global economy.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has called for “an open process that leads to a prompt succession for the Fund’s new Managing Director.” In the meantime, Geithner adds that acting managing director John Lipsky “will provide able and experienced leadership to the Fund at this critical time for the global economy.”

Most contend that French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is a likely replacement.

Photo of Dominique Strauss-Kahn: AP Images


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