Strauss-Kahn stays holed up in New York

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has a brilliant future, his lawyer said Wednesday, but the ex-IMF chief and former French presidential hopeful remained shuttered away on his first day of freedom, giving no indication of his plans.

The day after sex charges against him were dismissed in a sensational about-turn, Strauss-Kahn was holed up in a New York luxury rental residence and it was unclear even whether he had been able to pick up his passport in preparation for returning to France.  

There was barely a sign of life inside the brick townhouse.  

The curtained-off door opened just a crack when a florist delivered a bouquet of flowers and again, on a handful of occasions, when unidentified guests or staff left the building.  

When a heavily bearded Hasidic Jew rang on the intercom and asked to speak to Strauss-Kahn, who is also Jewish, a woman — possibly his millionaire wife Anne Sinclair — replied in French: “He is very busy. He is not seeing anyone.”  

Despite the scandal that forced Strauss-Kahn to quit the International Monetary Fund and shelve his hotly anticipated presidential bid, supporters say he still can return to public life.  

Observers say it is unlikely the 62-year-old Socialist Party grandee can put the episode behind him in time to take on Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2012 elections.  

But Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers said their client had done nothing criminal that should impede his future prospects, with star attorney Benjamin Brafman condemning prosecutors and the media for having rushed to judgment after his May 14 arrest on charges of trying to rape a Manhattan hotel maid.  

Charges were thrown out after prosecutors said they could only prove Strauss-Kahn had had brief sex with the maid, but not that he’d used force.  

“If you do something inappropriate, you don’t get prosecuted,” Brafman told NBC television’s “Today Show” program. “He paid a heavy price for a momentary lapse of judgment that was not criminal.”  

Asked directly whether Strauss-Kahn might seek to return to public life in France, Brafman responded: “I think his options are wonderfully wide, he is a brilliant man and a brilliant economic mind when we need that most.”  

Attorney William Taylor, who also represented Strauss-Kahn and was interviewed alongside Brafman, said: “I think he and his family will take some time and just relax.  

“They will make whatever arrangements they want to make about where they want to live and when they want to move. And then I suspect he will gather his friends around him and make some decisions.”  

The future of the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, might be less bright.  

Prosecutors, who initially strongly backed her claims to have been forced into oral sex by Strauss-Kahn in his pricey Sofitel hotel suite, have slammed her for repeatedly lying.  

The case was dropped after prosecutors said that the maid had lied so many times, both about details of the case and about her background, that she no longer made a credible witness in a he-said/she-said trial.  

On Wednesday, the company that runs Sofitel said it would be talking to Diallo’s lawyers regarding her job.  

For now, “Nafissatou Diallo is still an employee of the Sofitel New York,” an Accor spokesman said. 

The maid’s lawyer continues to argue that his client has been denied her right to justice and that prosecutors turned their backs on the medical evidence. He has filed a civil lawsuit on Diallo’s behalf seeking unspecified monetary damages from Strauss-Kahn.  

Brafman described Diallo as “either evil or pathetic or both” and suggested that unnamed “others” could have been using her for their own purposes.  

Shortly after Tuesday’s ruling, Strauss-Kahn and his millionaire French wife Anne Sinclair celebrated with dinner at an Italian restaurant called L’Artusi in Manhattan’s hip Greenwich Village neighbourhood.  

“This is the end of a terrible and unjust ordeal,” Strauss-Kahn told reporters outside the luxury Manhattan rental residence where he has spent much of the last three and a half months cooped up under house arrest.  

“I’m eager to return to my country,” he said, pledging to speak at “greater length” once back in France.  

But he still didn’t have his passport, which authorities confiscated from the then head of the International Monetary Fund at the time of his humiliating arrest.  

A rare earthquake along the US east coast meant offices in New York closed early Tuesday and although Strauss-Kahn was free he was told to wait until Wednesday to recover the document.

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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