Thursday, May 19, 2011

Strauss-Kahn 'not in a position to run IMF,' Geithner says

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Dominique Strauss-Kahn is in no position to run the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and called for an interim managing director to be formally named.

The comments Tuesday in New York were the first by any US official about the IMF boss since his arrest Saturday in New York on sexual assault charges.

'He is obviously not in a position to run the IMF,' Geithner said in comments reported in US media.

Strauss-Kahn was being held without bail. The IMF has appointed John Lipsky, Strauss-Kahn's deputy, as interim director, but Geithner called for a formal decision by the IMF board.

'There's a lot going on in the world,' said Geithner, who once worked for the IMF. 'You want the IMF to have the capacity to be helpful.'

European countries are determined to hold on to the post, which is traditionally granted to the continent, but emerging markets are pushing for their own candidate.

The United States, which has the largest number of votes in the IMF, would have a big say on who leads the fund.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, who had been seen as a leading candidate in next year's French presidential elections, was accused of attacking a hotel maid Saturday. He faces 25 years in prison if convicted. He has denied the charges.

His arrest prevented him from attending a meeting in Brussels this week of EU finance ministers to discuss bailouts and reforms. Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister, has been closely involved in eurozone bailouts, a third of which are financed with IMF funds.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker called considering a post-Strauss-Kahn leadership 'indecent' because he has neither resigned nor been found guilty.

Austrian Finance Minister Maria Fekter, however, said Strauss-Kahn had to consider whether he 'is inflicting damage' on the IMF by not resigning while German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble argued that 'the IMF is so well-organized that it can cope with the temporary absence of its chief.'

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