International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was indicted Thursday on charges that he raped a hotel maid in New York City. Regardless of whether he is ultimately found guilty, the French politician will continue to receive IMF payouts for the rest of his life. The scandal raises serious questions about how U.S. taxpayer funds are being used to subsidize the lavish lifestyles of international bureaucrats.
Mr. Strauss-Kahn resigned his position as IMF’s managing director from a jail cell at Rikers Island on Wednesday. The move entitled the once likely 2012 French presidential candidate to his contractual, tax-free severance pay of $287,287, or 65 percent of his 2010 salary. An IMF spokesman wouldn’t confirm whether the big fat check was in the mail yet.
The checks won’t stop coming, either. An IMF spokesman confirmed the agency would abide by all the terms of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s 2007 contract. That means Mr. Strauss-Kahn will be on the executive pension dole for the rest of his life, having become eligible upon turning 62 in April. Under the terms of his contract, the former chief will receive the standard “Staff Retirement Plan” plus an additional 65 percent of that amount as “an annual supplemental retirement allowance.” The contract has no ethics clause that would stop payment in the event of a serious felony conviction.
That’s not surprising because the IMF stands for unlimited partying on the international taxpayer’s dime. Consider Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s tax-exempt salary was $441,980 in 2010. On top of that, he received an allowance of $75,350 “to enable you to maintain, in the interests of the Fund, a scale of living appropriate to your position as Managing Director.” He also was reimbursed for any expenses incurred for “entertainment directly related to the business of the Fund.”
As if that weren’t enough, Mr. Strauss-Kahn negotiated a contract clause ensuring he would never fly anything less than first class. He never had to reach into the pockets of his own (reportedly) $35,000 suit during a business trip because he collected a per diem and everything else, “including all hotel expenses,” was covered. According to an IMF spokesman, Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s stay at the Sofitel Hotel, where the alleged sexual assault took place, was a personal trip not subsidized by the fund.
Congress does not give the IMF an annual funding, but periodically gives money requested for specific items like loans to countries. The last time the U.S. gave money to IMF was in 2009. The Obama administration requested, and the Democratic Congress authorized, an astronomical $108 billion in funds to the IMF. When the emergency supplemental appropriations bill was finalized, the Democratic Congress gave IMF approximately $18 billion.
At that time, the IMF also requested authority from the United States to sell about $9 billion worth of gold assets to pay for its operating expenses. Congress agreed to the gold sale only after getting assurances from the IMF that it would significantly cut its internal expenses. The IMF went ahead and sold the 12 million ounces of gold, but has refused U.S. requests for information on how the proceeds were used and how the operating expenses have been cut.
Just this week, the Republicans House Appropriations Committee asked the Treasury Department again for information on the finances, but did not get a response. At a hearing in March, Rep. Kay Granger, chairman of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, asked Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner five specific questions about the gold sale and IMF internal funding. He refused to answer.
It’s bad enough that so much money is being lavished on a bureaucrat simply to ensure he has a good time while supposedly alleviating world poverty. It would be even worse for the money to keep flowing if he is found guilty on any of the felony sexual assault charges. The United States ought not to provide any more funds to prop up this profligate organization.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.