Strauss-Kahn wins bail
New York, May 20, 2011
Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn will leave jail on bail on Friday under the shadow of sexual assault charges as another French official, Christine Lagarde, builds support to succeed him.
Strauss-Kahn, a global high-flier seen as having a strong shot at the French presidency until his arrest over the weekend, spent the last of four nights at New York's notorious Rikers Island jail on Thursday.
The package of conditions set by a judge on Thursday to let him leave jail -- $1 million cash bail, a $5 million insurance bond and house arrest at a New York apartment under armed guard and electronic monitoring -- was due to be signed on Friday.
In his letter resigning as the International Monetary Fund chief, Strauss-Kahn vowed to fight charges he tried to rape a hotel maid and committed other sexual offenses against her.
Once out of the Rikers cell and in the apartment, he will have unlimited access to his lawyers to prepare his defense and will be joined by his wife and daughter.
Strauss-Kahn's resignation intensified a race for global finance's top job at a critical time for the IMF as it helps euro zone states such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal deal with massive debt problems.
The managing director post has traditionally gone to a European for 65 years but is now in the sights of fast-growing developing economies who argue it is time for a change.
John Lipsky, the IMF's American No 2 who is now the acting chief, said on Thursday members agreed 'the process of selection of the managing director should be open, transparent and merit-based.'
But a sense of inevitability was growing that Europe would retain the post. Lagarde, France's finance minister, was seen as the most likely choice.
While US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called for an 'open process that leads to a prompt succession,' sources in Washington said the United States, the IMF's biggest financial contributor, would back a European.
The issue will probably be discussed at a summit of Group of Eight leaders in France next week. Together, the United States and European nations hold more than half of the IMF's voting power, giving them a big say over who leads it.
The IMF board was due to hold a regular meeting on Friday to approve its part of a 78 billion euro bailout for Portugal but it was unclear whether it would discuss the process for choosing a new managing director.
An arraignment hearing in Strauss-Kahn's case is set for June 6, when Strauss-Kahn will formally answer the charges, but a trial may be six months or more away. If convicted, he could face 25 years in prison. - Reuters