Sexual Abuse Allegations Strauss-Kahn Resigns as IMF Head

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has resigned as head of the International Monetary Fund following his arrest over an alleged sexual assault on a hotel maid. In a letter, he wrote that he was quitting "with infinite sadness" and said he denied all the allegations against him.

REUTERS/ /New York State

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has resigned as managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to a letter released Wednesday by the IMF's executive board.

"I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me," Strauss-Kahn, 62, wrote in his resignation letter. He said that he was presenting his resignation to the executive board "with infinite sadness." He added that he wanted to "protect" the IMF and to "devote all my strength, all my time and all my energy to proving my innocence."

The IMF wants to discuss Strauss-Kahn's successor "in the near future," it said in a statement. In the meantime, Strauss-Kahn's deputy, John Lipsky, will step in as acting head of the IMF. In recent days, Strauss-Kahn had come under increasing pressure to resign.

Strauss-Kahn is accused of sexually assaulting a 32-year-old maid in a luxury hotel in New York. The Frenchman, who had been seen as a front-runner to challenge French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012 elections, has denied all charges.

Strauss-Kahn was arrested on Saturday at John F. Kennedy airport in New York, shortly before he was due to fly to Paris. He is currently in custody in New York's Rikers Island prison. On Monday, a judge in New York denied a bail request, arguing there was a risk Strauss-Kahn would flee the country. His lawyer said that Strauss-Kahn will make a new plea for bail at a court hearing on Thursday.

Leadership Struggle

Even before Strauss-Kahn announced his resignation, a heated discussion had already begun over who should succeed the Frenchman as head of the IMF. Europe wants another European in the top job, but emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil want more influence in the organization. The IMF has been led by Europeans since it was set up following World War II.

On Wednesday, the German government's deputy spokesman Christoph Steegmans argued that a European should head the IMF, given the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in the euro zone. He said Europe had an "abundance of highly qualified candidates," without naming any individuals. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has argued in favor of Europe keeping the IMF leadership, as have the Swedish and Dutch finance ministers.

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, former Bundesbank head Axel Weber and former German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück have all been touted as possible candidates, among several others.

dgs -- with wires

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