Strauss-Kahn held by police in French prostitution probe

Reuters, Tuesday 21 Feb 2012

Fromer IMF chief is summoned for questioning amid allegations of his involvement in yet another sex-related crime

Members of the media surround the car of former International Monetary Fund (IMF) as he arrives for questioning by a judge investigating the so-called "Hotel Carlton" affair in Lille (Photo: Reuters)

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was taken in for questioning on Tuesday by police investigating an alleged prostitution ring run out of the northern French city of Lille.

A former finance minister once seen as a strong contender for France's 2012 presidential election, Strauss-Kahn's career and political ambitions came to an abrupt end last May after he was accused of sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid.
Strauss-Kahn made no comment to a crush of waiting reporters and photographers as he arrived by car for questioning at a Lille police station
Strauss-Kahn can be held for up to 48 hours and may then be placed under formal investigation for benefitting from misappropriated company funds.
Investigators are trying to find out whether French executives used corporate expense accounts to fund sex parties with prostitutes.
Strauss-Kahn quit his International Monetary Fund post after the New York sex assault case broke, although criminal charges were later dropped. Linked later to the Lille affair, Strauss-Kahn said that he wanted to talk to police over the case.
The investigation is focused on a prostitution ring that allegedly supplied clients of Lille's luxury Carlton hotel. Police want to establish whether Strauss-Kahn knew that women at sex parties he attended in Paris and Washington were prostitutes.
Strauss-Kahn's lawyer Henri Leclerc has said his client had no reason to think they were.
"People are not always clothed at these parties. I challenge you to tell the difference between a nude prostitute and a classy lady in the nude," Leclerc recently told French radio.
Eight people, including two Lille businessmen close to Strauss-Kahn and a police commissioner, have been arrested in the case, and construction firm Eiffage fired an executive suspected of using company funds to hire sex workers.
Using prostitutes is not illegal in France, but Strauss-Kahn risks being charged if investigators decide he knew the women at the sex parties were prostitutes or that company funds were used to pay them.
While his wife Anne Sinclair has revived her career as a journalist with a new job as news editor at an upcoming French-language version of the Huffington Post, Strauss-Kahn is living largely in the shadows.
Photographed occasionally out and about in Paris, recently in a scruffy dark grey anorak, he is starting to make a comeback on the international speech circuit but is otherwise rarely seen on the social circuit.
He is often parodied on the popular "Les Guignols" television program that uses puppets to satirize politicians. Strauss-Kahn is portrayed as over-sexed skirt chaser always wearing a leopard-print bathrobe.
Attempted-rape accusations brought against Strauss-Kahn last year by a Parisian writer were shelved by police in October.
The New York maid is pursuing him in a civil action.
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