New York police have confirmed that the IMF’s managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has been arrested and is being questioned over an alleged sex assault.
The New York Times said the 62-year-old was taken off an Air France plane at JFK airport, minutes before it was due to fly to Paris.
Strauss-Kahn, a potential contender in next year’s French presidential election, is said to have assaulted a maid at a Sofitel hotel in Manhattan earlier in the day.
The 32-year-old woman who filed the complaint reportedly fled the room.
Police say Strauss-Kahn left the hotel afterwards for the airport, leaving his mobile behind. A spokesman said the maid was treated for minor injuries.
The IMF chief is said to have cooperated with police and was not handcuffed when he was arrested.
A renowned economist, Strauss-Kahn – or DSK as he is known in France – took over at the IMF in 2007.
Married to French television personality Anne Sinclair, he apologised to her and to IMF colleagues the following year after an affair with a Hungarian economist who was working there.
But many say Strauss-Kahn has done a good job during the financial crisis. So much so that in France he is seen as a dangerous threat to rivals on both political left and right.
He is due to declare this summer whether he will seek the socialist nomination to succeed Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s presidential election.