“He is finished. Nobody thinks he will be back. People are just shocked,” said an IMF economist who would not speak for attribution.
A New York judge denied Strauss-Kahn bail Monday after a short hearing. His attorney had said he would stay in New York with his daughter to await trial. But prosecutors described him as a flight risk.
Taken into custody Saturday, he was scheduled to be transferred Monday night to the Rikers Island jail, the standard holding facility for people held without bail while awaiting trial. New York City officials said he would be in protective custody for his own safety.
The IMF’s second-in-command, John Lipsky, has been named acting managing director. At a morning “pep rally,” he urged agency staff members to go about their business — urging them to stay focused on global economic and financial problems.
But employees said they found it disconcerting to see their boss — a well-known French economist who was considered a possible candidate for the French presidency — standing before a judge with a stubbly beard after nearly two days in jail.
“It’s wrenching. The guy has really done a lot for the institution. It’s not something we’ve ever been exposed to in this fashion,” said one employee who spoke by phone on the condition of anonymity. “You can’t avoid it. Your neighbors are watching the news and they’re talking about it. Your kids go to school and they’ll hear about it.”
As they processed the news, some inside the agency were almost grief-stricken, while others noted that Strauss-Kahn had been warned by the IMF board about his relationships with women after it was disclosed in 2008 that he was having an affair with a member of the staff. He was reprimanded for what he conceded was a serious lapse in judgment but was allowed to remain in his job by a board that accepted his apology and viewed him as “repentant.”
Several IMF officials and staff members said they thought it would take a rapid and thorough exoneration of Strauss-Kahn for him to remain in his job.
On Monday, the IMF board held what it described as an informal meeting about Strauss-Kahn, but in a subsequent statement gave little insight about his future with the agency.
“The Board was briefed regarding criminal charges that have been brought against the Managing Director during a private visit to New York City,” IMF spokeswoman Caroline Atkinson said in an e-mailed comment after the meeting. “The IMF and its Executive Board will continue to monitor developments.”