Strauss-Kahn granted $6m bail but is forced to stand down from IMF

Wife posts seven-figure bond to free former banking chief as he vows to clear his name
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The Independent US

Dominique Strauss-Kahn pledged to devote "all my strength, all my time, and all my energy" to defending himself against the attempted rape charges that have now been formally laid against him in the US.

The French political grandee was last night granted bail and told he could await trial under house arrest at a private Manhattan apartment. His wife, Anne Sinclair, and one of his daughters travelled to court to support him.

Earlier in the day, he had paid tribute to his family in an emotional letter announcing his resignation as head of the International Monetary Fund. Meanwhile, the contours of French politics and international finance were already reconfiguring to close the hole caused by his absence.

Mr Strauss-Kahn was charged with attacking a 32-year-old maid at his Manhattan hotel suite on Saturday. The West African immigrant told police that he chased her down a hallway, forced her to perform oral sex and tried to remove her stockings, and a grand jury decided yesterday that there was enough evidence to pursue the case against him.

The seven charges against him include attempted rape, sex abuse, a criminal sex act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching, the most serious of which carries a 25-year sentence.

The 62-year-old "intentionally and for no legitimate purpose forcibly touched the sexual and other intimate parts of an individual known to the grand jury, for the purpose of degrading and abusing said individual and for the purpose of gratifying the defendant's sexual desire", according to the criminal complaint.

Ms Sinclair has rented an apartment in the city and agreed to post a $1m (£615,871) bail bond. Under the bail terms, there will also be a $5m insurance bond against the couple's properties, and Mr Strauss-Kahn will be forced to wear an electronic tag and hire an armed guard for the apartment.

Ms Sinclair, Mr Strauss-Kahn's third wife and a powerful former television journalist in France, said this week she did not believe the allegations. She has stood by him through previous infidelities, including his 2008 affair with an IMF staffer

Mr Strauss-Kahn had listened as Assistant District Attorney Artie McConnell argued against granting bail.

In the end his own defence team prevailed, but if the paperwork is not signed until later today, as indicated in court, he faces an additional night at the Rikers Island jail, in conditions that could hardly be further from those at the $3,000-a-night Sofitel hotel suite which was the scene of his downfall. He has been housed alone in a 13ft-by-11ft cell, and kept on suicide watch.

In his emotional letter of resignation to the IMF, his first public comments since being pulled off a flight about to leave New York's JFK airport on Saturday, Mr Strauss-Kahn said he denied the allegations "with the greatest possible firmness".

He said: "I think at this time first of my wife – whom I love more than anything – of my children, of my family, of my friends. I think also of my colleagues at the Fund; together we have accomplished such great things over the last three years and more.

"I want to protect this institution which I have served with [honour] and devotion, and especially I want to devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence."

The IMF, which has been deeply involved in planning and funding the bailouts of Greece and Portugal, said it would shortly set out on a search for a successor.

The resignation had appeared inevitable as international political figures had piled on pressure for a resolution. On Wednesday, the US Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, said the Frenchman was "obviously not in a position to run the IMF". Sources said he came under no pressure from within the Fund, however.

Mr Strauss-Kahn's former deputy and now the IMF's acting director, John Lipsky, was in Washington yesterday at a meeting of the Bretton Woods group, an advisory group to the Fund and the World Bank.

"I deeply regret the circumstances that have made it necessary for me to substitute for Dominique Strauss-Kahn," he said.

Meanwhile, in France, pollsters have begun assessing the likely impact of Mr Strauss-Kahn's disappearance from the political scene – and they revealed that the former IMF chief's Socialist Party remains on track to oust President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's election.

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