IMF sex assault scandal should not damage institution: Bildt

18th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said Wednesday he did not think sexual assault allegations against IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn would damage the institution.

"The IMF is a rather solid body... I don't see damage coming out of that," Bildt told reporters, referring to allegations Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted a maid at the posh Sofitel Hotel in New York last weekend.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Stockholm with Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Ruud, Bildt refused to say whether he thought Strauss-Kahn, who is being held at New York City's notorious Rikers Island jail complex and faces a long prison sentence if convicted, should resign.

Strauss-Kahn, whose official IMF mandate ends in 2012, has denied the claims.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner insisted on Tuesday the 62-year-old Frenchman was "obviously not in the position to run the IMF."

Ruud meanwhile also stressed Wednesday that the IMF was "a robust institution."

"The IMF is no longer just a creature of Western economies. Therefore it continues to play a significant role," he said.

Both Ruud and Bildt emphasised the important role the institution had to play in Egypt, where authorities last week requested an IMF loan to help cover a financing shortfall of up to 12 billion dollars (8.4 billion euros) through next June.

The IMF said Friday it would send a team to Cairo "shortly" to discuss conditions for the aid.

The Egyptian economy, heavily dependent on tourism, has been battered after a pro-democracy uprising that began in January ousted long-time president Hosni Mubarak.

"Stability in the Egyptian economy is very important for the evolution of democracy there," Bildt said.

© 2011 AFP

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