Dominique Gaston André Strauss-Kahn (French pronunciation: [dɔminik stʁos kan]; born 25 April 1949) is a French politician, former managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and a controversial figure in the French Socialist Party due to his involvement in several financial and sexual scandals. He is often referred to in the media, and by himself, as DSK. Strauss-Kahn was appointed managing director of the IMF on 28 September 2007, with the backing of his country's president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and served in that capacity until his resignation on 18 May 2011 in the wake of allegations that he had sexually assaulted a maid. Other allegations followed.
He was a professor of economics at Paris West University Nanterre La Défense and Sciences Po, and was Minister of Economy and Finance from 1997 to 1999 as part of Lionel Jospin's "Plural Left" government. He sought the nomination in the Socialist Party presidential primary of 2006, but was defeated by Ségolène Royal in November.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn was born on 25 April 1949 in the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine. He is the son of lawyer Gilbert Strauss-Kahn. Strauss-Kahn's father was born to an Alsatian Jewish father and a Catholic mother from Lorraine; Strauss-Kahn's mother is from a Sephardic Jewish family in Tunisia.
He and his parents settled in Agadir, Morocco, in 1951, but after the 1960 earthquake moved to Monaco, where his father practiced law. While the family was living in Monaco, Strauss-Kahn went to school at the Lycee Albert 1er. The family later returned to Paris, where he attended classes préparatoires at the Lycée Carnot. He graduated from HEC Paris in 1971 and from Sciences Po and the Paris Institute of Statistics in 1972. He sat and failed the entrance examination for École nationale d'administration, but obtained a bachelor degree in public law, as well as a PhD and an agrégation (1977) in economics at the Université Paris X (Nanterre).
From 1977 to 1981, Strauss-Kahn lectured at the University of Nancy-II, first as an assistant, and later as assistant professor, before taking a position at the University of Nanterre. In 1982, he was appointed to the Plan Commission as head of the finance department, and later as Deputy Commissioner, a position he held until his election to the National Assembly in 1986. After his ousting in the 1993 parliamentary elections, Strauss-Kahn founded DSK Consultants, a corporate law consulting firm. Upon resigning from the Jospin government, he resumed his academic duties, teaching economics at Sciences Po from 2000 until his appointment to the IMF in 2007.
Strauss-Kahn was first an activist member of the Union of Communist Students, before joining in the 1970s the Centre d'études, de recherches et d'éducation socialiste (Center on Socialist Education Studies and Research, CERES) led by Jean-Pierre Chevènement, future presidential candidate for the 2002 election. There, he befriended the future Prime Minister of France Lionel Jospin (PS).
After the election of President François Mitterrand (PS) in 1981, he decided to stay out of government. He got involved in the Socialist Party (PS), which was led by Lionel Jospin, and founded Socialisme et judaïsme ("Socialism and Judaism"). The next year, he was appointed to the Commissariat au plan (Planning Commission) as commissaire-adjoint.
In 1986 he was elected Member of Parliament for the first time in the Haute-Savoie department, and in 1988 in the Val-d'Oise department. He became chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Finances, famously exchanging heated words with the Finance Minister Pierre Bérégovoy (PS).
In 1991, he was nominated by Mitterrand to be Junior Minister for Industry and Foreign Trade in Édith Cresson's social-democratic government. He kept his position in Pierre Bérégovoy's government until the 1993 general elections.
After the electoral defeat of 1993, Strauss-Kahn was appointed by former Prime Minister Michel Rocard chairman of the groupe des experts du PS ("Group of Experts of the Socialist Party"), created by Claude Allègre. The same year, he founded the law firm "DSK Consultants" and worked as a business lawyer.
In 1994, Raymond Lévy, who was director of Renault, invited him to join the Cercle de l'Industrie, a French industry lobby in Brussels, where he met the billionaire businessman Vincent Bolloré and top manager Louis Schweitzer; Strauss-Kahn served as secretary-general and later as vice-president. This lobbyist activity earned him criticism from the alter-globalization left.
In June 1995, he was elected mayor of Sarcelles and married Anne Sinclair, a famous television journalist working for the private channel TF1 and in charge of a political show, Sept sur Sept. She ceased presenting this show after Strauss-Kahn's nomination as Minister of Economics and Finance in 1997 to avoid conflict of interest, while Strauss-Kahn himself would cede his place as mayor to François Pupponi in order to avoid double responsibilities.
Although it was in theory contrary to the Socialist Party's electoral program, he implemented a wide privatization program, which included among others the IPO of France Télécom; he also implemented some deregulation policies in the research and development sector. The French economy achieved an excellent performance during his term of office: the GDP increased, whereas unemployment and public debt decreased (creation of 300,000 jobs in 1998, a level not seen since 1969). This helped to strengthen his popularity and managed to win the support of former supporters of Lionel Jospin and Michel Rocard, making him the leader of the reform-oriented group Socialisme et démocratie. Strauss-Kahn was an early proponent of reducing the working week to 35 hours, a measure implemented by Martine Aubry, Minister for Social Policies.
In 1998 he became one of the leaders of the Socialist Party for the regional elections in the Ile-de-France region (Paris and suburbs), which were won by the PS. But as Strauss-Kahn refused to swap his ministry for the executive leadership of the Ile-de-France, Jean-Paul Huchon became the president of the regional council.
In 1999, he was accused of corruption in two financial scandals related to Elf Aquitaine and the MNEF Affair, a student mutual health insurance, and decided to resign from his ministerial office to fight these charges, in agreement with the "Balladur jurisprudence". He was replaced by Christian Sautter. He was acquitted in November 2001, and was reelected in a by-election in the Val-d'Oise.
As Minister of Economics and Finance, Strauss-Kahn succeeded in decreasing VAT to 5.5% for renovation works in construction, thus supporting this activity. At the same time, he decreased the budget deficit, which was more than 3% of GDP under Alain Juppé's center-right government (1995–97). He thus prepared France's entrance in the euro zone. Strauss-Kahn also repealed the Thomas Act on hedge funds and launched the Conseil d'orientation des retraites (Orientation Council on Pensions).
Strauss-Kahn succeeded in combining followers of Jospin and Rocard in the same political movement, Socialisme et démocratie, but failed to make it more than an informal network.
After Jacques Chirac's success in the 2002 presidential election and the following Union for a Popular Movement (UMP)'s majority in Parliament, Strauss-Kahn was reelected Member of Parliament on 16 June 2002, in the 8th circonscription of the Val-d'Oise. He first declined in taking part in the new leadership of the PS, then in the opposition, in the 2003 congress of the party. But he joined the party's leadership again at the end of 2004, and was given overall responsibility for drawing up the Socialist programme for the 2007 presidential election, along with Martine Aubry and Jack Lang. During the summer meeting of 2005, he announced that he would be a candidate for the primary elections of the Socialist Party for the presidential election.
At the same time, Strauss-Kahn co-founded the think tank À gauche en Europe (To the Left in Europe) along with Michel Rocard. He presided jointly with Jean-Christophe Cambadélis over the Socialisme et démocratie current in the PS.
Strauss-Kahn then campaigned for the "Yes" at the French European Constitution referendum, 2005. More than 54% of the French citizens refused it, damaging Strauss-Kahn's position inside the PS, while left-wing Laurent Fabius, who had campaigned for a "No" vote, was reinforced.
Strauss-Kahn sought the nomination for the Socialist candidacy in the 2007 presidential election. His challengers were former prime minister Laurent Fabius and Ségolène Royal, the president of the Poitou-Charentes region. Strauss-Kahn finished second, behind Royal. On 13 April 2007, Strauss-Kahn called for an "anti-Sarkozy front" between the two rounds of the forthcoming presidential election. Following Ségolène Royal's defeat, Strauss-Kahn criticized the PS's strategy and its chairman, François Hollande. Along with Fabius, he then resigned from the party's national directorate in June 2007. Strauss-Kahn had been widely expected to seek the Socialist nomination for President of France in 2012, and was considered an early favorite.
On 10 July 2007, Strauss-Kahn became the consensus European nominee to be the head of the IMF, with the personal support of President Nicolas Sarkozy (member of the right UMP party). Former Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka withdrew his candidacy as it was opposed by the majority of European countries. Some critics alleged that Sarkozy proposed Strauss-Kahn as managing director of the IMF to deprive the Socialist Party of one of its more popular figures.
Strauss-Kahn became the front runner in the race to become Managing Director of the IMF, with the support of the 27-nation European Union, the United States, China and most of Africa. On 28 September 2007, the International Monetary Fund's 24 executive directors selected him as the new managing director. Strauss-Kahn replaced Spain's Rodrigo Rato. On 30 September 2007, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was formally named as the new head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The only other nominee was the Czech Josef Tošovský, a late candidate proposed by Russia. Strauss-Kahn said: "I am determined to pursue without delay the reforms needed for the IMF to make financial stability serve the international community, while fostering growth and employment". Under Strauss-Kahn the IMF's pursuit of financial stability has included calls for a possible replacement of the dollar as the world's reserve currency. An IMF report from January 2011 called for a stronger role for special drawing rights (SDR) in order to stabilize the global financial system. According to the report, an expanded role for SDRs could help to stabilize the international monetary system. Furthermore, for most countries (except for those using the US dollar as their currency) there would be several advantages in switching the pricing of certain assets, such as oil and gold, from dollars to SDRs. For some commentators that amounts to a call for a "new world currency that would challenge the dominance of the dollar".
In 2008, the IMF Board appointed an independent investigator following allegations that Strauss-Kahn had had an affair with a subordinate, Piroska Nagy, who was married at the time to economist Mario Blejer. Nagy alleged that Strauss-Kahn had used his position to coerce her into the affair. She was later made redundant and Strauss-Kahn assisted her in getting a new job. The IMF board issued the findings of the investigation; while noting that the affair was "regrettable and reflected a serious error of judgment on the part of the managing director", the board cleared Strauss-Kahn of harassment, favoritism or abuse of power, and indicated that he would remain in his post. Strauss-Kahn issued a public apology for the affair. Le Journal du Dimanche dubbed him "le grand séducteur" (the Great Seducer).
Strauss-Kahn made comments that could be perceived as critical of global financial actors, in an interview for a documentary about the late-2000s financial crisis, Inside Job (2010). He said he had attended a dinner organised by former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in which several CEOs of 'the biggest banks in the U.S.' had admitted they (or perhaps bankers in general) were 'too greedy' and bore part of the responsibility for the crisis. They said the government "'should regulate more, because we are too greedy, we can't avoid it.'" Strauss-Kahn said he warned the officials of a number of departments of the U.S. government of an impending crisis. He also said: "At the end of the day, the poorest – as always – pay the most."
Referring to his diplomatic efforts to secure IMF aid for Europe following the 2010 sovereign debt crisis, economist Simon Johnson described Strauss-Kahn as "Metternich with a BlackBerry". In May 2011, referring to the IMF's change of heart in favour of progressive rather than neoliberal values, Joseph Stiglitz wrote that Strauss-Kahn had proved himself to be a "sagacious leader" of the institution. Following Strauss-Kahn's arrest for sexual assault in New York, economist Eswar Prasad said that should he be forced to step down, the IMF "will find it hard to find as effective and skilful an advocate for keeping the institution central to the global monetary system".
Strauss-Kahn resigned from the IMF on 18 May 2011, after being arrested by New York police on 15 May over allegations of sexual assault. He was on a plane about to take off, when airport police asked that the plane be stopped; he was escorted off the plane and interviewed by police. The case was later dismissed.
Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, 2007–2011 (resignation – sexual assault case)
In July 2013, Strauss-Kahn accepted a position as a board member of the Russian Regional Development Bank: a banking subsidiary of the Russian state oil company Rosneft. Shortly after that he also accepted a similar position at the Russian Direct Investment Fund.
On 13 September 2013, it was announced by Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić that Strauss-Kahn would become economic adviser to the Serbian government and that he is expected in Belgrade the following week.
In 2014, Strauss-Kahn was reported to "work... the lecture circuit in Asia".
On 25 September 2013, it was announced that Strauss-Kahn was to join Anatevka, a small investment banking firm based in Luxembourg. The firm was also to change its name to Leyne, Strauss-Kahn and Partners or LSK. His lead partner in the venture is Thierry Leyne. In 2014, LSK announced an effort to launch a $2 billion hedge fund.
On November 7, 2014, the company filed for bankruptcy. Hidden obligations emerged after the suicide of Leyne.
In a "98-minute documentary called The Euro Story, shown in prime time on May 15, [Strauss-Kahn was] included [for] a total of five minutes of comments on the euro crisis .... Narrated by a close friend of his, the economist Daniel Cohen", there was no mention of the Sofitel or Lille Carlton.
Strauss-Kahn has four daughters, one by his second wife, Brigitte Guillemette, whom he married in 1984. He married his third wife, French journalist Anne Sinclair, in 1991. Sinclair is the heiress to part of the fortune of her maternal grandfather, Paul Rosenberg. The couple had a house in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., two apartments in Paris, and a riad in Marrakesh, Morocco. He is an accomplished chess player who enjoys playing chess for up to two or three hours a day on his iPad.
On 31 August 2012, Anne Sinclair said in a newspaper interview that she and Strauss-Kahn had separated. When asked how she was doing "since [her] separation", she responded, "Very well, thank you....I am in good shape; I took a vacation; I'm working hard again." The couple divorced in March 2013.
In December 2015, the press revealed that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, while he was the managing director of the IMF, had a secret love child born in 2010.
Strauss-Kahn was formally indicted on 18 May and granted US$1 million bail, plus a US$5 million bond, the following day. He was ordered to remain confined to a New York apartment under guard. A semen sample was found on the maid's shirt, and on May 24 it was reported that DNA tests showed a match to a DNA sample submitted by Strauss-Kahn. He was arraigned on June 6, 2011, and pleaded not guilty. On June 30, 2011, the New York Times reported that the case was on the verge of collapse because of problems with the credibility of the alleged victim, who had, according to sources within the NYPD, repeatedly lied since making her first statement. According to prosecutors, the accuser admitted that she lied to a grand jury about the events surrounding the alleged attack. Diallo said that the translator misunderstood her words. Strauss-Kahn was released from house arrest on 1 July.
After completing a lengthy investigation, prosecutors filed a motion to drop all charges against Strauss-Kahn, stating that they were not convinced of his culpability beyond a reasonable doubt due to serious issues in the complainant's credibility and inconclusive physical evidence, and therefore could not ask a jury to believe in it. The motion was granted by Judge Obus in a hearing on August 23, 2011. In a TV interview in September, Strauss-Kahn admitted that his liaison with Diallo was a moral fault and described it as "inappropriate" but that it did not involve violence, constraint or aggression. He said that Diallo had lied about the encounter and that he had no intention of negotiating with her over a civil suit she had filed against him. Strauss-Kahn later reached a settlement with Diallo for an undisclosed amount over the civil suit.
In the aftermath of the New York arrest other allegations were made. During the case, the journalist Tristane Banon came forward with a claim that Strauss-Kahn had attempted to rape her. In September Banon stated that if there is no criminal prosecution, she would bring a civil case against Strauss-Kahn. According to a report in L'Express Strauss-Kahn admitted to attempting to kiss Banon. In October the French public prosecutors dropped the investigation. They stated that there was a lack of evidence regarding the allegation of attempted rape. In March 2012, Strauss-Kahn came under investigation in France over his alleged involvement in a prostitution ring. The allegations relate to his supposed involvement in hiring prostitutes for sex parties at hotels in Lille, Paris and Washington. On 2 October 2012, a French prosecutor announced that they will not continue the investigation of Strauss-Kahn's connection to a possible gang rape in Washington, D.C.
On 26 July 2013, French prosecutors announced that Strauss-Kahn was to stand trial concerning allegations of "aggravated pimping" at the Carlton hotel in Lille. Strauss-Kahn was acquitted of these charges on 12 June 2015.
A feature film Welcome to New York directed by Abel Ferrara (2014) was based on the Strauss-Kahn story. The film featured "Gérard Depardieu as Devereaux, a character modeled on Strauss-Kahn, and Jacqueline Bisset as Simone, likewise based on Anne Sinclair, ... [was] built around the Sofitel scandal and portray[ed] both characters in an unforgiving light". Sinclair said the film was "disgusting" and Strauss-Kahn's lawyer said "his client would sue the film's producers for libel".
'I thank everyone who supported me all over the world,' Diallo says leaving courthouse
|National Assembly of France|
|Mayor of Sarcelles
|Minister of Finance of France
|Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund