NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Dominique Strauss-Kahn, facing charges of sexually assaulting a maid in his New York hotel room last weekend, has resigned as director of the International Monetary Fund.Strauss-Kahn, 62, who had been considered a leading Socialist Party challenger to French Premier Nicolas Sarkozy, released a statement late Wednesday announcing he would relinquish his post at the powerful bank. "To all, I want to say that I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me," Strauss-Kahn said in the statement. "I want to protect this institution which I have served with honor and devotion, and especially -- especially -- I want to devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence." Strauss-Kahn is being held in a New York City jail, pending a bail hearing Thursday. The IMF said the process of choosing a new leader would begin. John Lipsky will remain acting managing director. Europe would like to keep one of its own in the top IMF position, while China, Brazil and South Africa are trying to break Europe's grip on an organization it has led since the IMF's inception after World War II. Potential European candidates include French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde; Germany's former central bank chief, Axel Weber; the head of Europe's bailout fund, Klaus Regling; and Peer Steinbrueck, a former German finance minister, The Associated Press reported. Candidates from elsewhere include Turkey's former finance minister, Kemal Dervis; Singapore's finance chief, Tharman Shanmugaratnam; and Indian economist Montek Singh Ahluwalia.