Strauss-Kahn questioned over prostitution ring


DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, was questioned by police yesterday over an alleged prostitution ring based in the northern French city of Lille.

Mr Strauss-Kahn, who was the frontrunner for the French presidency until his arrest on sexual assault charges in New York last year, arrived at a Lille police station yesterday morning and may be held until tomorrow morning.

The investigation centres on claims that a network of businessmen in northern France and Belgium organised sex parties involving prostitutes in Paris, Brussels and Washington. The so-called Carlton affair, a reference to the luxury Lille hotel at the centre of the inquiry, has already resulted in eight people, including a senior police officer and prominent businessmen, being formally placed under investigation.

Leaks from the inquiry suggest Mr Strauss-Kahn attended sex parties linked to the Carlton network in Paris and Washington, but police want to establish whether he knew that women at these events were prostitutes.

In a biography by Michel Taubmann published last year, the French former finance minister admitted he had taken part in “libertine soirees” but was disgusted by the idea of prostitutes and pimping. “It’s not my thing,” he said.

“People are not always clothed at these parties. I challenge you to tell the difference between a naked prostitute and any other naked woman,” his lawyer, Henri Leclerc, recently said.

Availing of the services of a prostitute is not illegal in France, but organising prostitution is an offence. Mr Strauss-Kahn could be placed under investigation if police suspect he helped organise for the women to travel or if he knowingly had sex with prostitutes paid for out of company funds.

Belgian pimp Dominique Alderweireld, known by his nickname “Dodo la Saumure”, told French radio Mr Strauss-Kahn may not have given much thought to who, if anyone, had paid the women at the parties. “It wasn’t his problem. All he was interested in was having sex. That’s it,” he said.

Although the criminal charges against Mr Strauss-Kahn over his sexual encounter with a New York hotel maid were dropped last August, he still faces a civil action in the US.