Former IMF chief Strauss-Kahn charged with pimping

Former IMF chief Strauss-Kahn charged with pimping
Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn before an interview with French television station TF1 in Boulogne-Billancourt. (Francois Guillot / Associated Press)

PARIS -- The disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is to stand trial in France on charges of pimping, prosecutors said Friday.

The Frenchman is expected to face another humiliating day in court next year over his links to an alleged prostitution ring based at the luxury Carlton Hotel in the northern French city of Lille.

Strauss-Kahn, 64, a former Paris finance minister, has admitted through his lawyers attending “libertine” parties at hotels in France and in Washington, where the International Monetary Fund is based, in 2010 and 2011.

However, he has always insisted he did not know that some of the women present were prostitutes and denies the pimping charge.

After the investigation into what has been dubbed the Carlton Affair was launched in October 2011, Strauss-Kahn's lawyer, Henri Leclerc, told French television it was reasonable to assume his client did not know that a number of women at the parties were being paid for sex.

“As you can imagine, at these kinds of parties you're not always dressed, and I challenge you to distinguish a naked prostitute from any other naked woman,” Leclerc said.

Strauss-Kahn, a former presidential hopeful, has been pursued by claims of sexual offenses since his arrest by New York police in May 2011, following accusations that he tried to rape hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo.

The criminal charges were eventually dropped after doubts emerged about the maid's credibility. But Strauss-Kahn, who insisted Diallo had consented to oral sex, was forced to pay her substantial damages, reportedly in the region of $6 million.

The French state prosecutor had recommended dropping the Carlton Affair charges against Strauss-Kahn on grounds of a lack of evidence. The French magistrates overseeing the investigation rejected the recommendation and maintained a charge of "aggravated pimping as part of a group." In France, the offense of "pimping" covers a wide range of crimes includes aiding or encouraging prostitution.

Strauss-Kahn is expected to go on trial along with 12 other defendants, including high-flying businessmen and a law-enforcement officer also accused of involvement in the alleged vice ring. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in jail and a fine of just under $2 million.

"It will all come out publicly before the tribunal, and everyone will realize that there is nothing in this case," Leclerc said Friday.

Leclerc said Strauss-Kahn was being targeted by investigators because of his high profile.

"This decision is based on an ideological and moral analysis, but certainly not on any legal grounds. We're sending someone to court for nothing," he said.

After his arrest in New York, Strauss-Kahn stepped down as head of the IMF and gave up his hopes of becoming the French president. His third wife, Anne Sinclair, a wealthy heiress and former television presenter, divorced him.



Willsher is a special correspondent.