Attention shifts to Strauss-Kahn’s accuser

Attention in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sex case has shifted to the accuser, a New York hotel maid who now faces mounting credibility problems, as the ex-IMF chief enjoyed freedom from strict bail

The former French politician remained Sunday in his rented townhouse in Lower Manhattan, but his wife, Anne Sinclair, left the residence in the afternoon and smiled at reporters before departing in a black sedan.  

Unlike previous occasions, there were no bodyguards, and a New York police cruiser that had been parked there for weeks had vanished.  

As prosecutors scrambled to salvage some sort of case against the once high-flying head of the world’s top lender, Strauss-Kahn’s defense team denied a New York tabloid’s allegations he engaged in sex for money with the hotel maid.  

“There was no dispute between the parties because there was no discussion about money,” the team, led by lawyers Benjamin Brafman and William Taylor, said in a statement.

The New York Post reported Sunday that Strauss-Kahn and his accuser, a 32-year-old immigrant from Guinea, engaged in sex acts in his luxury suite, and that afterwards there “was an expectation of money after the fact, but he was dismissive.”

The Post, quoting a source close to the defense’s investigation team, has also said the maid often traded sex for money with male guests at the Sofitel hotel.  

While the charges against the 62-year-old stand, the case has nearly imploded after prosecutors acknowledged their investigations of the accuser found she lied to a grand jury about the case.  

In a letter to defense lawyers, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said the woman had provided a “false” narrative of her life — including a gang rape which she later admitted never occurred — as part of her application process for US asylum.  

Among other details gleaned about the maid were her possible links to criminal activities, including drug dealing and money laundering, a law enforcement official told The New York Times. 

Within a day of the alleged rape attempt, the maid was recorded speaking on the phone with a boyfriend jailed for possessing 180 kilograms of marijuana and discussing the benefits of pursuing charges, according to the newspaper.  

When the conversation was translated from Fulani, the maid’s native language, investigators became concerned.  

“She says words to the effect of, ‘Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing,'” the Times quoted one of the officials as saying.  

The paper said the man was one of several individuals who made multiple cash deposits totaling around $100,000 into the woman’s bank account over the last two years.  

Strauss-Kahn’s release from house arrest has raised hopes among Strauss-Kahn’s supporters that the case will collapse and the Socialist party favorite will return to frontline politics, possibly even as a candidate to challenge French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012 elections.  

Fellow socialist Segolene Royal, a candidate in the presidential vote, said she had no problem delaying the process to make room for him.  

The current deadline for declaring in the Socialist Party primary is July 13th.  

US authorities still hold his passport pending possible trial, meaning that Strauss-Kahn cannot travel outside the United States, though his $1 million bail and $5 million bond will now be returned.  

Despite the maid’s shattered credibility, Vance vowed to continue the investigations until prosecutors had uncovered all the facts and noted that charges had not been dropped.  

Legal analysts, however, said the case was likely dead.  

According to the accuser’s initial grand jury testimony, she fled Strauss-Kahn’s luxury hotel suite immediately after the May 14th attack and waited in the hallway before informing a supervisor.  

But, prosecutors revealed, the woman subsequently changed her story, admitting she actually cleaned another room and even returned to start cleaning Strauss-Kahn’s suite before alerting her bosses.  

According to the prosecutors, the woman also lied on her asylum application when she entered the United States in 2004 and defrauded US tax authorities by listing a non-existent second child as her dependent.  

The maid’s lawyer Kenneth Thompson admitted his client had made “some mistakes,” but insisted forensic evidence would prove Strauss-Kahn was guilty of a brutal sexual assault.  

Given the accuser’s background, New York authorities now reportedly regret their hasty arrest of Strauss-Kahn in May when he was taken off a plane at JFK International Airport and hauled into a police station.  

“I guess, in a perfect world, they would not have had to arrest him right away,” The New York Times quotes an unnamed law enforcement official as saying. “They could have checked the evidence and everything.”


World unprepared for next financial crisis: ex-IMF chief Strauss-Kahn

The world is less well equipped to manage a major financial crisis today than it was a decade ago, according to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a former chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

World unprepared for next financial crisis: ex-IMF chief Strauss-Kahn
Former French Economy Minister and former managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Dominique Strauss-Kahn , poses during a photo session in Paris on Thursday. Photo: JOEL SAGET / AFP
In an interview with AFP, the now-disgraced Strauss-Kahn — who ran the fund at the height of the 2008 financial meltdown — also said rising populism across the world is a direct result of the crisis. 
Strauss-Kahn resigned as head of the IMF in 2011 after being accused of attempted rape in New York, although the charges were later dropped. He settled a subsequent civil suit, reportedly with more than $1.5 million.
Q: When did you become aware that a big crisis was brewing?
A: When I joined the IMF on Nov 1, 2007, it became clear quite quickly that things were not going well. That is why in January 2008, in Davos, I made a statement that made a bit of noise, asking for a global stimulus package worth two percent of each country's GDP. In April 2008, during the IMF's spring meetings, we released the figure of $1,000 billion that banks needed for their recapitalisation.
Q: Did the Bush administration grasp the danger of Lehman Brothers going bankrupt?
A: No, and that is why Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson decided not to save Lehman, because he wanted to make an example of it in the name of moral hazard. Like everybody else, he considerably underestimated the consequences. Allowing Lehman to go under was a serious mistake. Especially because only a week later they were forced to save the insurer AIG, which was much bigger.
Q: Ten years on, are we better equipped to deal with a crisis of such a magnitude?
A: No. We have made some progress, particularly in the area of banks' capital adequacy ratios. But that is not nearly enough. Imagine Deutsche Bank suddenly finding itself in difficulty. The eight percent of capital it has at its disposal are not going to be enough to solve the problem. The truth is that we are less well prepared now. Regulations are insufficient.
Q: How so?
A: After 2012-2013 we stopped talking about the need to regulate the economy, for example concerning the size of banks, or concerning rating agencies. We backtracked, which is why I am pessimistic about our preparedness. We have a non-thinking attitude towards globalisation and that does not yield positive results.
Q: Do we still have international coordination?
A: Coordination is mostly gone. Nobody plays that role anymore. Not the IMF and not the EU, and the United States president's policies are not helping. As a result, the mechanism that was created at the G20, which was very helpful because it involved emerging countries, has fallen apart. Ten years ago, governments accepted leaving that role to the IMF. I'm not sure it is able to play it today, but the future will tell.
Q: Do you believe that Donald Trump's election is a consequence of the crisis?
A: I believe so. I'm not saying that there was a single reason for Trump's election, but today's political situation is not unconnected to the crisis we lived through, both in the US with Trump and in Europe.
Q: Connected how?
A: One of the consequences of the crisis has been completely underestimated, in my opinion: the populism that is appearing everywhere is the direct outcome of the crisis and of the way that it was handled after 2011/2012, by favouring solutions that were going to increase inequalities.
Quantitative easing (by which central banks inject liquidity into the banking system) was useful and welcome. But it is a policy that is basically designed to bail out the financial system, and therefore serves the richest people on the planet.
When there's a fire, firemen intervene and there is water everywhere. But then you need to mop up, which we didn't do. And because this water flowed into the pockets of some, and not of everyone, there was a surge in inequality.
By AFP's Antonio Rodriguez