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Sex Charges Prompt IMF Resignation

International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn appears in Manhattan Criminal Court during his arraignment in New York May 16, 2011
International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn appears in Manhattan Criminal Court during his arraignment in New York May 16, 2011
Peter Fedynsky

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has resigned his powerful position as International Monetary Fund Chairman, while maintaining his innocence of sexual assault charges.

Related video report by Mariama Diallo

In a letter to the IMF board, Dominique Strauss-Kahn denies “with the greatest possible firmness" the allegations he sexually assaulted a hotel maid. He also writes that he wants to protect the institution that he says he "served with honor and devotion," and that he especially wants to devote all of his strength, time, and energy to proving his innocence.  

Strauss-Kahn adds that he feels compelled to resign with “infinite sadness.”  

Officials at New York's Rikers Island jail said earlier in the week that Strauss-Kahn was placed on a suicide watch. But one of his attorneys, William Taylor, described the defendant’s mood as good.

“It was serious, but good," said Taylor. "He is a strong man and he is committed to seeing this through."

Straus-Kahn’s resignation could spark a dispute over a successor. His deputy, John Lipsky, an American, will serve as acting managing director. But China, Brazil and South Africa are among the fast growing economies that want to break Europe’s traditional hold on the IMF’s influential top job.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says developing economies have a legitimate claim in the medium term. But she adds urgent problems in the eurozone require a European IMF leader. Brazil's finance minister, Guido Mantega counters the position should be based on merit.

Strauss-Kahn has been held since Saturday, and his attorneys are asking the court to release him on $1-million bail. They say he has surrendered his passport and would stay at the home of his daughter, who is a student in New York.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports investigators have cut a piece of carpet from Strauss-Kahn’s hotel room in a search for DNA evidence.

The alleged victim is identified as a 32-year-old African immigrant from Guinea. Many of Strauss-Kahn’s supporters say he may have been the target of a character-assassination plot to preclude his bid for the presidency of his native France.

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