New York: Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn will plead not guilty on Monday to charges he tried to rape a New York hotel maid, an accusation that has wrecked his chance of becoming France’s next president.
Praised for his role tackling the 2007-09 global financial crisis and attempts to keep Europe’s debt crisis under control, Strauss-Kahn, 62, is facing up to 25 years in prison if convicted on charges of a criminal sexual act, attempted rape, sex abuse, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching.
His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, told Reuters that Strauss-Kahn will plead not guilty to the charges in New York Supreme Court before Judge Michael Obus on Monday.
Strauss-Kahn quit as managing director of the International Monetary Fund a few days after his 14 May arrest in the first-class section of an Air France plane, minutes before it was to depart New York for Paris.
He is accused of attacking a 32-year-old African immigrant a few hours earlier when she came to clean his suite at the luxury Sofitel hotel in Midtown Manhattan, apparently believing it had been vacated.
Strauss-Kahn, who has four daughters, said in his IMF resignation letter that he denies the charges but his court appearance on Monday will be the start of what could be drawn-out legal proceedings.
French finance minister Christine Lagarde and Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens both want to replace Strauss-Kahn at the Washington-based IMF. Lagarde is the strong favorite but some developing countries are upset about the long-held practice of choosing a European to head the fund.
Until the alleged sexual assault in New York, Strauss-Kahn had been expected to quit his IMF post for a different reason - a bid to become the Socialist candidate for president of France. He had been a strong favorite to beat conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy at the polls next year.
Instead, Strauss-Kahn spent four days in New York’s Rikers Island jail before he was released on $1 million cash bail and $5 million bond and placed under house arrest with 24-hour armed guards and electronic monitoring.
He spent a few days in a Lower Manhattan apartment but is now living in a luxurious townhouse rented by his wife - French television journalist Anne Sinclair - in Manhattan’s TriBeCa district. The townhouse has a gym and home cinema and was last posted for sale for almost $14 million.
A prosecutor estimated Strauss-Kahn would pay $200,000 a month for his security arrangements.
Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer has said that although his client has a net worth of roughly $2 million, his wife, an heiress, has “substantially greater assets.” So far, Sinclair has not displayed any hesitation about using her personal wealth to help her husband.
Strauss-Kahn also has been consulting with a posse of investigators and media advisers about how to deal with the criminal charges against him and how to limit any damage to his reputation from the allegations.