By Basil Katz
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn will plead not guilty Monday to charges he tried to rape a New York hotel maid, an accusation that has wrecked his chance of becoming France's next president.
Praised for his role tackling the 2007-09 global financial crisis and attempts to keep Europe's debt crisis under control, Strauss-Kahn, 62, is facing up to 25 years in prison if convicted on charges of a criminal sexual act, attempted rape, sex abuse, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching.
His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, told Reuters that Strauss-Kahn will plead not guilty to the charges in New York Supreme Court before Judge Michael Obus Monday.
Strauss-Kahn quit as managing director of the International Monetary Fund a few days after his May 14 arrest in the first-class section of an Air France plane, minutes before it was to depart New York for Paris.
He is accused of attacking a 32-year-old African immigrant a few hours earlier when she came to clean his suite at the luxury Sofitel hotel in Midtown Manhattan, apparently believing it had been vacated.
Strauss-Kahn, who has four daughters, said in his IMF resignation letter that he denies the charges but his court appearance Monday will be the start of what could be drawn-out legal proceedings.
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens both want to replace Strauss-Kahn at the Washington-based IMF. Lagarde is the strong favorite but some developing countries are upset about the long-held practice of choosing a European to head the fund.
Until the alleged sexual assault in New York, Strauss-Kahn had been expected to quit his IMF post for a different reason -- a bid to become the Socialist candidate for president of France. He had been a strong favorite to beat conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy at the polls next year.
Instead, Strauss-Kahn spent four days in New York's Rikers Island jail before he was released on $1 million cash bail and $5 million bond and placed under house arrest with 24-hour armed guards and electronic monitoring.
He spent a few days in a Lower Manhattan apartment but is now living in a luxurious townhouse rented by his wife -- French television journalist Anne Sinclair -- in Manhattan's TriBeCa district. The townhouse has a gym and home cinema and was last posted for sale for almost $14 million.
A prosecutor estimated Strauss-Kahn would pay $200,000 a month for his security arrangements.
Strauss-Kahn's lawyer has said that although his client has a net worth of roughly $2 million, his wife, an heiress, has ''substantially greater assets.'' So far, Sinclair has not displayed any hesitation about using her personal wealth to help her husband.
Strauss-Kahn also has been consulting with a posse of investigators and media advisers about how to deal with the criminal charges against him and how to limit any damage to his reputation from the allegations. (Additional reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Michelle Nichols and Eric Walsh)
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