Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund, has been denied bail on sexual assault charges brought against him by a hotel chambermaid at his arraignment on Monday in a New York court.
Strauss-Kahn's arrest comes at a time of monetary crisis
International Monetary Fund (IMF) head Dominique Strauss-Kahn made his first appearance in a New York court on Monday, facing charges of sexual assault in a case that has rocked the worlds of finance and French politics.
Judge Melissa Jackson denied bail, despite an offer by his attorneys to put up one million dollars in cash and surrender all his travel documents. His lawyers said the IMF chief could live with his daughter in New York, if he were granted bail.
But the court was told that Strauss-Kahn had been involved in similar incidents before. The Manhattan district attorney said there were "reports that he has engaged in conduct similar to this on at least one other occasion."
Judge Jackson said the defendant should be remanded because he was "a flight risk." Strauss-Kahn is being held at New York's Rikers Island jail where he has been separated from other inmates for his own safety. His next hearing is set for Friday.
Strauss-Kahn was escorted off a plane bound for France at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport on Sunday, following the alleged incident involving a maid working at the Sofitel Hotel in Times Square, where he was staying.
The 32-year-old woman said Strauss-Kahn attacked her when he got out of his shower naked and attempted to lock her in his room.
Recent polls showed Strauss-Kahn ahead of President Sarkozy
Strauss-Kahn has been accused of attempted rape. A court appearance was postponed on Sunday to allow DNA tests to be carried out.
The 62-year-old was taken into police custody and later identified by the woman in a police lineup. Strauss-Kahn's lawyer has said his client will plead not guilty to the charges.
The incident is likely to affect any bid by Strauss-Kahn to run for the French presidency in 2012, a move that had been widely expected.
The lawyer for a French writer, Tristane Banon, said Monday his client was also considering filing a legal complaint against Strauss-Kahn over an alleged sexual incident that occurred almost a decade ago.
David Koubbi said Banon had previously been persuaded by her mother, a Socialist Party member, not to bring proceedings against the politician for fear of damaging her career in journalism.
Strauss-Kahn's detention meant he was unable to attend Monday's meeting of European Union finance ministers in Brussels to discuss the debt situations in Portugal and Greece.
Power vacuum at IMF?
Gordon Brown has been mooted as a possible IMF chief
Meanwhile, the IMF has appointed its number two official, John Lipsky, to the position of acting managing director while Strauss-Kahn is in custody. It said the fund remained "fully functioning and operational."
The IMF, however, could face a leadership vacuum after Lipsky announced last week that he planned to step down in August when his term ends.
A number of names have already been circulating as possible successors to Strauss-Kahn, including the former Turkish finance minister, Kemal Dervis, while some in Britain have speculated about a candidacy by former prime minister, Gordon Brown.
Traditionally, the IMF post has always gone to a European, but emerging nations, like Brazil, as recently as April, have said it was high time to depart from what they termed an outdated practice.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on Monday, bluntly stated that Europe should remain in charge of the IMF, if Strauss-Kahn were to resign. She also made a point of emphasizing that the IMF chief should be considered innocent until proven guilty.
Author: Gregg Benzow (Reuters, AFP, dpa)
Editor: Nancy Isenson