IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been sent to custody at New York's Rikers Island jail on charges of sexual assault.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, was arrested on Saturday after boarding an airplane after he was accused of raping a hotel maid; the judge said he was a flight risk.

Strauss-Kahn faces seven charges and could be sentenced to up to 25 years of imprisonment, he denies the charges.

Benjamin Brafman, Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer expressed discontent at bail being denied, but said his client should be forgiven.

This battle has just begun, the defense lawyer told the court.

Prosecutors told the court it was not the first time Strauss-Kahn had been involved in such an incident and argued he had been arrested attempting to flee the country.

Brafman challenged it, by saying the defendant had not tried to flee but was actually rushing for an appointment.

Strauss-Kahn had been due to attend an EU finance ministers' meeting in Brussels to discuss financial bail-outs.

The IMF has played a central role in organizing rescue packages for the troubled economies of Portugal and Greece.

Until the arrest, Strauss-Kahn was considered a favorite to become the Socialist candidate for the French presidency next year.