The head of the IMF has been charged with a criminal sexual act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment, following allegations made by a hotel maid in New York.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn was taken into custody at JFK airport after being pulled from the first-class cabin of a flight to Paris just minutes before take-off.
The 62-year-old married father of four is due to appear before a judge later this evening.
The lawyer representing Mr Strauss-Kahn, Benjamin Brafman, has indicated he “will plead not guilty” to the charges.
The incident is alleged to have happened in Mr Strauss-Kahn’s luxury suite at the Sofitel hotel, not far from Manhattan’s Times Square.
A 32-year-old maid told authorities she was attacked when she went into clean the room.
In a statement Mr Strauss-Kahn’s wife, Anne Sinclair, said she “does not believe for a second the accusations against her husband”.
“I do not doubt his innocence will be established. I appeal for restraint and decency,” she added.
Talks that had been due to take place today between Mr Strauss-Kahn and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were cancelled in the wake of the arrest, after the IMF said they would not be sending a replacement to Berlin.
The pair had been due to talk about the euro zone debt crisis.
Mr Strauss-Kahn was also due to attend a meeting of European finance ministers in Brussels on Monday.
The French head of the International Monetary Fund took up his role in November 2007.
The 187-nation lending agency is based in Washington and provides help in the form of emergency loans for countries facing severe financial problems.
He won praise for his leadership at the IMF during the financial crisis of 2008 and the severe global recession that followed.
More recently, he has directed the IMF’s participation in bailout efforts to keep a European debt crisis which began in Greece from destabilising the global economy.
Before taking the top job at the IMF, Mr Strauss-Kahn had been a member of the French National Assembly and had also served as France’s Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry from June 1997 to November 1999.
He had been viewed as a leading contender to challenge the re-election of French president Nicolas Sarkozy for the Socialist Party. With Strauss-Kahn out of the way, Marine Le Pen’s chances of getting elected are much higher.
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