March 27 (Bloomberg) -- Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, was charged by three investigating judges in the northern French city of Lille with procurement in a prostitution ring, prosecutors said.
The charge stems from an investigation into a prostitution ring linked to the Carlton hotel in Lille. Investigators uncovered evidence women had been hired to travel as far as Washington to have sex with the then-chief of the IMF.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, turned himself in Feb. 21 and was held overnight to answer questions as investigators sought to determine whether he knew the women were prostitutes, or how they were paid. French builder Eiffage SA filed a complaint for embezzlement after an internal probe found an employee spent as much as 50,000 euros ($66,790) to pay for prostitutes for Strauss-Kahn.
“The three investigating judges in Lille in charge of the so-called Carlton affair have charged Mr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn with aggravated organized procurement of prostitutes,” prosecutors said last night in a statement.
The charges followed a closed-door meeting yesterday between Strauss-Kahn and judges. Prosecutors said Strauss-Kahn was ordered not to contact other people involved in the case, including the eight other people charged in the case, witnesses and the press, according to the statement. He was released on a 100,000 euro bond.
Paying for sex is legal in France, while procuring prostitutes for someone else isn’t. Under the French penal code, procurement in the context of a prostitution ring can be punished by as much as 20 years in jail and 3 million euros.
Strauss-Kahn “declared with the greatest firmness that he is not guilty of any of these deeds and never had the least awareness that the women he met could have been prostitutes,” Richard Malka, one of his lawyers, said last night upon leaving the judges’ offices in Lille. His lawyers will hold a press conference today in Paris.
The former IMF managing director gave up his post last year after being arrested in New York on charges he sexually assaulted a hotel maid. Local prosecutors dropped that case because of concerns about his accuser’s credibility and Strauss-Kahn returned to France, where he faced a separate accusation of attempted rape, which was also dropped.
Tomorrow, a hearing in New York state court in the Bronx is scheduled in the civil suit of Nafissatou Diallo, the maid who said Strauss-Kahn tried to rape her. His lawyers asked New York State Supreme Court Justice Douglas E. McKeon to dismiss the case, arguing Strauss-Kahn should have diplomatic immunity.
Diallo is seeking unspecified damages for what her lawyer called “violent and deplorable acts” committed when she came to clean his room at the Sofitel in midtown Manhattan.
McKeon said he will listen to arguments from both sides tomorrow and issue a written decision on Strauss-Kahn’s motion about two to three weeks later. McKeon, who has been a judge in New York City since 1989, said he has never dealt with a case involving diplomatic immunity before.
Diallo’s lawyers say they have spoken with women from “throughout the world” about their sexual encounters with Strauss-Kahn and are confident they can use the information in the civil case.
“Some of the people we’ve spoken to have said that he did things against their will and that he was violent,” Douglas Wigdor, a Diallo lawyer in New York, said in November. The stories “show Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s violence against women and his modus operandi toward a lack of consent.”
The New York case is Diallo v. Strauss-Kahn, 11-307065, New York State Supreme Court (Bronx County).
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