REPORTING FROM PARIS -- Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was widely expected to become the next president of France before he was caught up in a sex scandal in the United States this year, is being investigated by police looking into a call girl ring in northern France.
French police are investigating reports that he has a connection to an $800-a-night ring that allegedly flew prostitutes to Washington and other foreign capitals to entertain Strauss-Kahn between international meetings, according to the respected weekly newsmagazine L'Express.
L'Express reported that in February 2009, after giving a speech at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, Strauss-Kahn lunched in a restaurant with several friends and their “girls.” The magazine says the women were prostitutes brought in from Belgium, and with whom, it says, Strauss-Kahn had sexual relations.
Strauss-Kahn's lawyers, saying their client is the victim of a "media lynching," have branded news reports about the alleged sex scandal as “dangerous and malicious insinuations” and have demanded that their client be interviewed by police as soon as possible to clear his name.
Strauss-Kahn is expected to be interviewed by police in the next few weeks.
Using prostitutes is not illegal in France and Strauss-Kahn has threatened to sue over the allegations, claiming they infringe on his private life. But he may face corruption charges if the alleged encounters were paid for by a third party.
After his arrest in May on a charge of sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid, later dropped, the former director of the International Monetary Fund returned to France, where he had been accused of attacking a young French journalist, charges that were also abandoned.
Strauss-Kahn reportedly sent messages to businessman Fabrice Paszkowski suggesting a pattern of orgies and sexual encounters.
Strauss-Kahn's wife, former television presenter Anne Sinclair, has publicly stood by her husband, but friends have told French journalists that she is running out of patience with her husband.
A leading French daily newspaper, Le Figaro, reported that Sinclair was demanding that he repay her hundreds of thousands of dollars she spent on his defense in New York. She also reportedly told him that she would not pay any damages to Nafissatou Diallo, the Sofitel Hotel maid who says he attacked her in May.
-- Kim Willsher
Photo: Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn leaving his home in Paris in September. Credit: Michel Gangne / AFP/Getty Images