Whatever happened to DSK?

Remember Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund who was arrested for the alleged rape of a hotel maid in New York before walking away free when the New York prosecutor decided there wasn’t a case because of the woman’s credibility (though she insisted she was raped)?

Anyway, he’s back in the news. He has a new consulting company and is on the lecture circuit. He’s also facing criminal charges involving a connection to a prostitution ring in France. His defense: The authorities are trying to “criminalize lust.”

According to the New York Times:

In France, “Libertinage” has a long history in the culture, dating from a 16th-century religious sect of libertines. But the most perplexing question in the Strauss-Kahn affair is how a career politician with ambition to lead one of Europe’s most powerful nations was blinded to the possibility that his zest for sex parties could present a liability, or risk blackmail.

The exclusive orgies called “parties fines” — lavish Champagne affairs costing around $13,000 each — were organized as a roving international circuit from Paris to Washington by businessmen seeking to ingratiate themselves with Mr. Strauss-Kahn. Some of that money, according to a lawyer for the main host, ultimately paid for prostitutes because of a shortage of women at the mixed soirees orchestrated largely for the benefit of Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who sometimes sought sex with three or four women.

On Thursday, Mr. Strauss-Kahn broke a long silence to acknowledge that perhaps his double life as an unrestrained libertine was a little outré.

A little??!! Is that like being a little pregnant?

The New York case should have gone to trial.

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DSK is free … but he’ll never be clear

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, as expected, walked today:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn became a free man Tuesday when a judge ended the sexual assault case against him at the request of prosecutors, who said the hotel maid who accused the former International Monetary Fund chief couldn’t be trusted.

Though evidence showed Strauss-Kahn had a sexual encounter with Nafissatou Diallo in his hotel suite more than three months ago, prosecutors said the accuser was not credible because of lies she has told, including an earlier false rape claim.

The only way prosecutors were going to get a conviction was if the victim was a nun or under 12 years old. So the fact that the victim has lied in the past made the case unwinnable, according to the New York DA.

But bottom line is he had sex with the woman. And she had injuries. For anyone to say this paves the way for him making a return to French politics and a possible shot at the French presidency is an abomination. Other women have come forth and said he attacked them. He cheats on his wife. He was in a sex scandal last year, and Nicolas Sarkozy surely had a file on him that would have been used if they were opponents in the presidential election.

The guy’s a predator, and now he knows he can get away with it. That makes him dangerous.

DSK rape case nears end

The Manhattan district attorney is giving up the prosecution. Dominique Strauss-Kahn is expected to walk on Tuesday:

Three months after authorizing Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s swift indictment after his arrest on sexual assault charges, the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., has decided to ask a judge to dismiss the case, a person briefed on the matter said on Sunday….

While there has been widespread speculation that Mr. Vance would drop the case, it is nonetheless an extraordinary turn of events, for both Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, an enormously powerful international banker and a leading candidate for the French presidency before his arrest, and his accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, a 33-year-old immigrant from Guinea.

Her credibility as a witness began to crumble after prosecutors discovered what they characterized as a series of lies she had told, though none bore directly on her version of the encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn.

The criminal case is over. A civil suit is in the process. But Strauss-Kahn will be walking down the Champs d’Elysees on his way to the Louvre a lot sooner than thought.

Lagarde gets the top IMF job

2011 G-20 Presser

Image by IMF via Flickr

Christine Lagarde of France was chosen as the new head of the International Monetary Fund today. It was a done deal when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said the U.S. would endorse her over the other candidate for the job, Mexico’s central bank governor.

So the general rule of international finance prevails: Europe gets the IMF, the U.S. gets the World Bank. The developing world is put on hold.

So now that Lagarde, the soon-to-be former French finance minister, has the job. Here is one of the first things she’s going to have to deal with:

This is Athens on Tuesday, when Greek Unions called a general strike against the austerity measures being proposed to keep the country out of bankruptcy. The Greek Parliament is calling for wage cuts, tax hikes and selling public companies to the private sectors. If that doesn’t happen, foreign lenders, specifically the European Union and the IMF, won’t lend Greece the money it needs to avoid default.

As you can see, the people are not happy. It’s pretty much expected the measures will pass. And you can pretty much expect the demonstrations are going to be more violent. And even if Greece gets the money, chances are it still won’t get out of trouble.

And Greece isn’t the only western European country on the verge of collapse. Keep an eye on Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain when the Greek plan fails. So Lagarde is going to be extremely busy and will be under a lot of pressure to make things right. Given the situation, it’s doubtful anyone can succeed here.

(Oh, and here’s the obligatory “Lagarde is the first woman to head the IMF” line, which is kind of ironic since the previous IMF chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is awaiting a rape trial in New York.)

DSK pleads not guilty

While the world is distracted by the stupidity of the Twitter twit Anthony Weiner, this is the more serious sex scandal playing out in New York:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges that he sexually assaulted a hotel housekeeper.

In doing so, Mr. Strauss-Kahn uttered his first public words since the episode in the Sofitel New York, saying “not guilty” in a heavy French accent — setting the stage for a criminal trial in which Mr. Strauss-Kahn is expected to face his accuser.

Indeed, a lawyer for the housekeeper said on Monday that the woman intends to testify against Mr. Strauss-Kahn.

The lawyer specifically said:

“The victim wants you to know that all of Strauss-Kahn’s power, money and influence throughout the world will not keep the truth of what he did to her in that hotel room from coming out….

“And that despite the smear campaign that is being committed against her, she is standing up for her dignity as a woman. She’s standing up for her self-respect as a woman. And she is standing up for all of the women and children around the world who have been sexually assaulted or sexually abused and are too afraid to say something.”

DSK and DNA

Here’s the latest development in Dominique Strauss-Kahn‘s sexual assault charges (From the AP):

Test results returned Monday found that DNA from former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn matched material on the work clothes of a Manhattan hotel maid who says he attacked her, two people familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press.

The two people would not describe the material found on the shirt, but said DNA matched a sample from Strauss-Kahn, who submitted to testing after his arrest more than a week ago. He denies the charges….

Staff at the Sofitel told authorities that the 62-year-old had made passes at them the day before the alleged attack, including flirting with a clerk and calling another employee to ask her up to his room, according to a third person with direct knowledge of investigators’ interviews with staff.

Strauss-Kahn had flirted with one female staff member who accompanied him to his suite to make sure his accommodations were satisfactory after he checked in on May 13, the person said. Later, he phoned the desk clerk who had checked him in, asking her if she would like to get together with him when she got off duty, the person said. The desk clerk refused, saying she was not allowed to socialize with the VIP guest, the person said.

That person also wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

On Monday, lawyers for Strauss-Kahn continued to search for new digs for their client as he awaits trial. His bail agreement hit a snag late last week after tenants at the Upper East Side apartment building chosen for his house arrest refused to allow him, citing unwanted media attention.

Lagarde likely to replace DSK at IMF

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde (L) ...

Christine Lagarde with Dominique Strauss-Kahn

There’s been speculation for a week, but it looks like Europe is rallying around French finance minister Christine Lagarde as the successor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the head of the International Monetary Fund:

As the International Monetary Fund prepared to accept nominations Monday to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn at its helm, European officials rallied over the weekend around Christine Lagarde, France’s finance minister, as their top choice for the post, despite fresh warnings from leaders of emerging markets and other countries that simply handing the job to another European could undermine the fund’s legitimacy.

It’s hard to believe the Europeans would let anyone outside of Europe take over the IMF post now that DSK is gone. There’s an unwritten agreement that an American gets to lead the World Bank and a European gets the IMF. If you look at the World Bank, the past two heads have been Robert Zoellick and Paul Wolfowitz, both Bush administration veterans.

There are a number of reasons the Europeans want control of the World Bank, but the most important is they don’t want anyone outside of their continent making decisions that will have a huge bearing on dealing with the current European economic crisis. IMF policies in Africa and South America have caused a lot of pain on those continents and have also led to anti-IMF riots. And after the 1997 Asian financial crisis, in which the IMF tied loans to major structural overhauls of the banking, currency and economic systems of affected Asian countries, the Europeans definitely don’t want someone from Asia, the continent most likely to provide a new leader for the organization, taking over the post. There must be a huge fear of payback among Europeans if someone outside the continent was making decisions on whether Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Portugal would survive, not to mention the general economic problems facing the continent.

In terms of selecting a European to head the IMF, it is kind of surprising that Gordon Brown, the former U.K. prime minister, isn’t being seriously considered. Just a few years ago, when the world economy was collapsing, he was being praised as the world leader who kept his head and developed a viable recovery plan while the rest of the world was running in circles. But the rest of Europe really doesn’t trust anyone who comes from the U.K. Some, in fact, blame the Anglo-U.S. economic model for the current global financial mayhem. And in the U.K., surprisingly, there is a visceral hatred of Gordon Brown, something I never quite understood when I was there. The current U.K. chancellor of the exchequer (what we would call the Treasury secretary), George Osborne, despises Brown and absolutely refuses to support his candidacy as the IMF chief. So, Brown is out.

And it’s kind of ironic that Christine Lagarde is the front runner … a French woman replacing a Frenchman accused of a sex crime.

But Europe will rally behind one candidate to make sure Europe retains the IMF leadership. And right now, the rally is behind Lagarde.