French police detained former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn for questioning over allegations he took part in orgies in Paris and Washington with prostitutes paid for by businessmen.
The 62-year-old former Socialist minister,who until last year was the frontrunner to replace Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France,yesterday had been summoned as a witness,but prosecutors said he was now a suspect.
He turned up voluntarily at a police station in the northern city of Lille and prosecutors said he would be detained on suspicion of “abetting aggravated pimping by an organised gang” and “misuse of company funds.”
A magistrate will decide whether the evidence supports charges on these or other potential offences. He could be cleared,be charged and released on bail or remanded in custody pending an eventual trial.
An inquiry source said a judge was expected to prolong Strauss-Kahn’s detention.
Under French law,aggravated organised pimping carries a prison term of up to 20 years and profiting from embezzlement five years and a large fine.
Between interrogations,the millionaire international statesman was to be held in a spartan 7.5-square-metre cell with a simple foam mattress,a sink and a hole-in-the-floor squat toilet.
Investigating magistrates want to know whether he was aware that the women who entertained him at parties in restaurants,hotels and swingers’ clubs in Washington,Paris and several other European capitals were paid prostitutes.
They will also seek to determine whether Strauss-Kahn knew that the escorts were paid with funds fraudulently obtained by his hosts from a French public works company,for which one of them worked as a senior executive.
Paying a prostitute is not illegal in France,but profiting from vice or embezzling company funds to pay for sex can lead to charges.
The former managing director of the International Monetary Fund admits he has an uninhibited sex life,but denies any role in pimping or corruption and has indicated he will deny any criminal wrongdoing.
Lawyer Henri Leclerc has said his client may not have known he was with prostitutes as “in these parties,you’re not necessarily dressed. I defy you to tell the difference between a nude prostitute and a nude woman of quality.”