Disgraced former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn believes that the scandal that brought an end to his political career could have been a plot to keep him out of presidential elections.
Based on an interview with investigative journalist Edward Jay Epstein, who has finished a book on Strauss-Kahn, the Guardian reported on Friday that the one-time Socialist candidate-apparent thinks that his sex scandal and rape trial were shaped by those with a political agenda, possibly members of President Nicolas Sarkozy's government.
While Strauss-Kahn recognizes that his sexual encounter with New York City maid Nafissatou Diallo was not a set-up, he thinks that the following events -- including Diallo going to the New York Police Department -- were orchestrated by his political enemies. Strauss-Khan told Epstein that he was under surveillance at the time of the May 14, 2011 incident and that operatives were listening to his phone calls.
I planned to make my formal announcement on 15 June and I had no doubt I would be the candidate of the Socialist party, Strauss-Kahn said.
Perhaps I was politically naive, but I simply did not believe that they would go that far, the former IMF boss said.
As proof of his claims, Strauss-Kahn details his arrival at the Sofitel Hotel in Times Square in Manhattan before the incident. Although he arrived discreetly from a cab without calling ahead, hotel employees and a doorman, one of whom was on the phone with an unknown party, met him at the front of the hotel. Strauss-Kahn took this to mean that someone was spying on him and reporting his movements.
Francois Hollande, a man that Strauss-Kahn once said had no intellectual curiosity, was selected as France's Socialist party candidate in the months following Strauss-Kahn's fall from grace. Hollande currently has a narrow lead over Sarkozy ahead of the second round of voting.
However, before the Sofitel scandal, Strauss-Kahn was leading Hollande in polls and could have been a formidable opponent against the incumbent Sarkozy. Strauss-Kahn still believes that he would have beaten Sarkozy had he run for office.
He makes it manifestly clear to me that he now believes that his public undoing did not occur in isolation from his plans to challenge Sarkozy and his center-right UMP party in the 2012 French elections, Epstein said of his conversations with Strauss-Kahn.
The charges against Strauss-Kahn were eventually dropped by New York City prosecutors but his reputation was damaged beyond repair. At the time of the case, another woman, French journalist Tristane Banon, also claimed that the then-IMF chief tried to rape her during an interview.
Additionally, Strauss-Kahn has recently found himself at the center of a prostitution scandal. Last month, he was charged with aggravated pimping stemming from allegations that he organized the procurement of prostitutes sent from Belgium to hotels in France and the United States.
If found guilty, Strauss-Kahn faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and fines of up to €3 million ($4 million).