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IMF Chief Charged With Assaulting Hotel Maid


The head of the International Monetary Fund will have to stay in jail at least until Friday. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, one of France's most powerful politicians, was arrested over the weekend and charged with sexually assaulting a maid at a Manhattan hotel. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers denied the charges. And today, a New York judge refused to give Strauss-Kahn bail. The arrest throws the presidential race in France into disarray. And as NPR Jim Zarroli reports, it raises questions about the IMF's efforts to resolve Europe's ongoing financial crisis.

JIM ZARROLI: Prosecutors had argued that Strauss-Kahn should be kept in jail, because they said if he fled the country they would have virtually no way of forcing him to return, and the judge agreed. Afterwards, Strauss-Kahn's lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, told the crowd of reporters outside the courthouse that he would review the judge's move. And he reminded reporters that Strauss-Kahn was still innocent until proven guilty.

ZARROLI: And I would ask all of you to please allow him the presumption of innocence, so we can hopefully still get a fair trial when that happens.

ZARROLI: Today, Strauss-Kahn's troubles seemed to multiply. A journalist in France said she may file a complaint against Strauss-Kahn for attempting to assault her a decade ago. Tristane Banon talked about the incident on French TV a few years ago, but the station bleeped out Strauss-Kahn's name.


ZARROLI: (French language spoken)

ZARROLI: Strauss-Kahn is widely considered to be a top candidate for the presidency of France next year. He is the country's former finance minister and a frequent commentator on economic matters. Here he is in a TV interview from last year.

D: Of course, there is a cost to go on with the stimulus too long. And we have to take care about debt sustainability that has increased in most countries and...

ZARROLI: Eswar Prasad of Cornell University says Strauss-Kahn has negotiated with European officials and persuaded them to back the bailouts.

P: Among senior international policymakers, like finance ministers and central bank governors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn really had the status of a rock star. Unlike previous managing directors, he was really seen as the first among equals, as somebody who had the stature to essentially bring them all together.

ZARROLI: The IMF issued a statement this weekend saying it remained fully functioning and operational. And Prasad, who is himself a former IMF official, said he had no doubt that was true.

P: Most of the work the fund does, including its lending operations, are mostly technical matters. And for all those technical matters, the staff are perfectly equipped to do this on their own. But the big question is what happens when decisions have to be taken that have more than an economic element to them, and that have a very large political element to them.

ZARROLI: Jim Zarroli, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jim Zarroli is an NPR correspondent based in New York. He covers economics and business news.