Strauss-Kahn gets passport back

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was given back his passport on Thursday, his legal team said, clearing the way for the former IMF head to travel abroad for the first time since his arrest three months ago on
sex crime charges.

“I can confirm that the New York Police Department and the Office of the District Attorney returned Mr Strauss-Kahn’s passport,” Shawn Naunton, from the French politician’s legal team, said after a brief visit to his Manhattan home.  

Strauss-Kahn has been a free man since Tuesday when a New York judge agreed to a request by prosecutors to drop all charges against him.  

The DA’s office said it could no longer pursue the case because while Strauss-Kahn did engage in sex with a Manhattan hotel maid, her repeated lying to investigators made it impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt her allegations of sexual assault.  

“As you all know, Mr Strauss-Kahn’s freedom was restored on Tuesday and the criminal charges were dismissed. It’s gratifying to return his passport to him today,” Naunton said.  

Strauss-Kahn is believed to be preparing to return to France, where until his arrest he was seen as a leading prospect to become president in elections next year.  

Despite the dismissal of charges, the affair remains a dark cloud over his reputation.  

A spokesman at the International Monetary Fund, where Strauss-Kahn had to give up the leadership in the wake of his arrest, said that a visit was expected “as early as next week.”  

The IMF, which plays a crucial but often controversial role in aiding countries in financial straits, was left reeling after Strauss-Kahn resigned as chief in May in the middle of tense negotiations over Greece’s massive bailout.  

“Like any former managing director of the IMF, Mr Strauss-Kahn would be welcome to visit the Fund. I understand that he intends to make a personal visit to headquarters,” IMF spokesman David Hawley told a press briefing.  

“It’s a personal visit… I expect he would meet with the staff. I don’t have any further details on the visit, which is not yet fully fleshed out,” Hawley said.  

“It could be as early as next week. But if there were such a visit, it would be a personal one and essentially a private one, so it wouldn’t be open to the press or the public.”  

The case against Strauss-Kahn, 62, sensationally collapsed after prosecutors said his accuser, Guinean immigrant Nafissatou Diallo, could no longer be believed.  

She had lied both about details of the case and about her background, destroying her credibility in a he-said/she-said trial.  

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 that showed a brief sex act took place in the hotel room. He has filed a civil lawsuit on Diallo’s behalf seeking unspecified monetary damages.  

An IMF employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Thursday that employees “couldn’t care less” if Strauss-Kahn, who had headed the 187-nation institution for more than three years, visited.  

“I think that if he comes and there is a townhall for him to officially say good-bye and thank you, people will listen to him politely,” the employee said.  

“He’s not going to have any ululations,” the person added, referring to the high-pitched wailing commonly used by women in the Middle East.  

Former French finance minister Christine Lagarde won the IMF succession battle and took up her post as the new head of the 187-nation Fund on July 5, becoming the first woman to head the key crisis lender.

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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