Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former IMF chief whose French presidential ambitions were shattered by a sex scandal last year, is making a comeback in business and at conferences.
The 63-year-old Strauss-Kahn was accused of trying to rape a New York hotel maid in May 2011. He protested his innocence and criminal charges against him were dropped, though civil proceedings by the woman are still pending.
Now he is promoting himself as a consultant and guest speaker at far-flung points on the world’s conference circuit, where participants can demand $100,000 or more to talk for an hour, and five times that sum for star performers such as former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
While Strauss-Kahn’s itinerary for now will keep him at some distance from the financial capitals he used to frequent, experts say his economic policy experience and a contact book that many heads of state would envy will stand him in good stead.
“He has the potential to be enormously successful,” says Roy Cohen, a New York-based career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide”.
“He needs to be test-driven first … If he is able to prove that his intervention and the consultancy advisory work he is doing is powerful and effective, he’s going to generate interest.”
Strauss-Kahn has been little seen in public in his native France, where until recently media have been portraying him as a shunned and lonely man. Yet in the past year he has delivered keynote speeches at conferences in China, Ukraine, Morocco and South Korea.
He was warmly applauded when he spoke about global economic prospects to hundreds of students and executives in Morocco in September, at an event where his hosts at a private university introduced him not with his grandest former title but simply as Professor Strauss-Kahn, the economist.
He is scheduled to make a second appearance in Morocco at an Arab banking congress in Casablanca in mid-November. Organisers of the meeting declined to comment when contacted by Reuters, as did others hosting conferences Strauss-Kahn is due to attend.
His come-back plan took another step forward last month when he lodged the founding statutes of a consultancy firm, called Parnasse, at the commercial court in Paris.
On top of conference work, public speaking and consulting, Parnasse’s statutes show his ambitions stretch to finance, real estate and political services in France and abroad.