Dominic Strauss-Kahn: a glittering career dogged by controversy

 
Steve Dinneen
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DOMINIQUE Strauss-Kahn, the head of the IMF who was arrested on a plane in Washington over sex allegations, has experienced more highs and lows than most.

He is seen as a political maverick, whose shrewd instincts in guiding the IMF through the treacherous waters of the post-recession global economy have gained him international plaudits. His handling of the bailout negotiations have been lauded, with some economists crediting him as one of the key players holding the Eurozone together after Greece threatened to set off a killer chain reaction.

However, controversy has dogged his career. He was forced to resign from his role as finance minister in 1999 after becoming embroiled in a scandal over the use of forged or fraudulent documents to claim bogus legal fees. After a high profile investigation he was cleared of all allegations and he was subsequently re-elected.

More lasting damage was done to his reputation when, whilst working for the IMF in 2008, news broke of his affair with one of his subordinates. He admitted to an “error in judgment” but added: “I firmly believe that I have not abused my position.”

His wife, well known French radio and TV journalist Anne Sinclair, stayed with him following the affair.

The timing of the new allegations could hardly be worse. He was widely expected to step down from the IMF to run for the French presidency, in which he some polls showed him besting Sarkozy and returning the Socialists to power. It would have been the fairytale end to a glittering career, which began as economics lecturer.

The 62-year-old, born into a Jewish family in the affluent Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur Seine, entered politics in 1986. He rose to prominence in the Socialist party and, following its election victory in 1997, was named finance minister.

He was instrumental in paving the way for France to join the euro, bringing the government spending deficit below the required three per cent of GDP. Some observers say his career at the IMF has always pointed to a return to top-level French politics.

Even if he is cleared, his Presidential dream is all but over. Now he faces a far tougher battle to save his reputation and what remains of his career.