Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned as head of the IMF, saying he needed to devote all his energy to fight charges that he sexually assaulted a hotel maid.
His arrest after he was pulled from a plane in New York on Saturday dashes Strauss-Kahn’s prospects of running for the French presidency next year and has sparked debate over the more than 60-year tradition that a European is appointed as the head of the fund.
“I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me,” Strauss-Kahn said in his letter of resignation, released by the IMF and dated Wednesday. “I want to devote all my strength, all my time and all my energy to proving my innocence.”
The former French finance minister was scheduled yesterday to make his second request to be allowed out of jail on US$1 million cash bail and be placed under 24-hour house arrest until his trial.
He is being held in New York’s Rikers Island jail.
“Yes, there will definitely be a bail hearing tomorrow,” Manhattan District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Erin Duggan said on Wednesday.
A police mug shot of Strauss-Kahn, 62, taken more than 24 hours after he was detained, showed him exhausted, his eyes downcast and half-closed and wearing a rumpled, open-neck shirt.
The photograph is likely to fuel outrage in France over the way the man seen as a strong contender for the presidency was paraded before the cameras in what is called the “perp walk.”
Polls released in France on Wednesday showed 57 percent of respondents thought the Socialist politician was definitely, or probably, the victim of a plot.
The woman Strauss-Kahn allegedly tried to rape, a 32-year-old widow from West Africa, testified on Wednesday before a grand jury. It will decide in secret whether there is enough evidence to formally press charges with an indictment.
New details have emerged about the sequence of events surrounding the alleged attack.
Strauss-Kahn left the Sofitel near Times Square in Manhattan at about 12:30pm on Saturday and about an hour later, hotel security called police to report an alleged sexual assault, a law enforcement source said.
New York investigators are questioning why officials at the hotel waited an hour to call police after the IMF chief had left in a hurry.
He has been charged with attempted rape, sexual abuse, a criminal sexual act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. If convicted, he could face 25 years in prison.
The woman he is accused of assaulting is an asylum seeker from Guinea with a 15-year-old daughter.
In the only public hint of Strauss-Kahn’s possible line of defense, his attorney Benjamin Brafman told his arraignment hearing on Monday that the evidence “will not be consistent with a forcible encounter.”
Any trial could be six months or more away.
Stauss-Kahn’s resignation will intensify the debate over who should next lead the IMF and whether it is time to ditch the tradition, in place since it was set up in 1945, of having a European as managing director.
Emerging market economies, which are already demanding a greater say in how the IMF is run, have also been pressing their case for the global economy’s financial manager to be drawn from their ranks.
China, Brazil and South Africa have all suggested a new approach to selecting the next managing director. Mexico and Japan called for an open process.
“As agreed at G20, heads of international financial organizations and senior leaders should be chosen based on their ability through an open and transparent process, so I think a suitable person should be chosen through such a process,” Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said after Strauss-Kahn’s resignation.
Strauss-Kahn’s departure comes at a sensitive time given the IMF’s dominant role in helping eurozone states such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal deal with massive debt problems.
Europeans argue that because of the eurozone debt crisis it makes sense for them to retain the post.
John Lipsky, the IMF’s No. 2, is acting managing director until the executive board selects a successor to Strauss-Kahn.