Ex-International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is not allowed to have contact with others involved in the probe.
Ex-International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is not allowed to have contact with others involved in the probe.
PHOTO: AFP/Getty Images

Story highlights

Attorney: There is no evidence Strauss-Kahn knew women at sex parties were paid

Other suspects say the former IMF chief did not know, Henri Leclerc says

Strauss-Kahn is warned he is being investigated for "aggravated pimping"

French police are investigating a high-profile prostitution ring in Lille

(CNN) —  

Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was formally warned Monday that he is under investigation for “aggravated pimping” for his alleged participation in a prostitution ring in France, prosecutors said.

Other suspects held over an investigation into prostitution centered around the city of Lille “said that Dominique Strauss-Kahn did not know that these women were being paid,” Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer Henri Leclerc said in a news conference.

“We hear that these women say otherwise. Well, no! I can tell you these women do not say otherwise,” he said.

Strauss-Kahn was formally warned Monday that he is under investigation for “aggravated pimping” for accusations that he participated in a prostitution ring, prosecutors said.

He is not allowed to have contact with other people involved in the investigation, nor is he permitted to talk to the media about the case. Strauss-Kahn was released under a 100,000-euro bail, according to prosecutors.

Strauss-Kahn is now at a point in the French legal system that comes after an arrest and before charges.

Strauss-Kahn faces allegations of habitual involvement in a prostitution racket. Specifically, “aggravated’ means on a regular and involved basis, and “pimping” means actually facilitating a prostitution operation, not just being a customer.

The description of the alleged crime as “aggravated” means it took place on a regular and involved basis, and “pimping” means facilitating a prostitution operation, not just being a customer.

Leclerc said it was possible to question his client’s morals, but that he had not broken the law.

“We can criticize in terms of virtue, in terms of how a man should conduct himself,” the lawyer said. “But in reality, this is just unruly conduct. You can hate it, you may not find it virtuous – everyone is entitled to their own opinion – but it is not a crime.”

Last month, Strauss-Kahn was held for more than 24 hours by police in Lille and questioned about his alleged involvement in the prostitution ring.

While prostitution is not illegal in France, profiting from the prostitution of another person is against the law, according to the French Penal Code. Authorities are also investigating whether corporate funds were used to pay for the prostitutes.

Leclerc said in December that there was no evidence that such funds were misappropriated.

Last month, Strauss-Kahn was held for more than 24 hours by police in Lille and questioned about alleged involvement in the prostitution ring.

His attorneys released a statement in November calling the allegations against their client “unhealthy, sensationalist and not without a political agenda.”

The prostitution probe, nicknamed the “Carlton Affair” by the French press, kicked off in October.

It centers around the city of Lille, where investigators began looking into claims that luxury hotels, including the Carlton, served as a base for a high-profile prostitution network.

In December, Strauss-Kahn’s attorney, Henri Leclerc, acknowledged in an interview with radio station Europe1 that his client attended sex parties, but said Strauss-Kahn was unaware the women in attendance were prostitutes.

A hotel manager and four other men were arrested late last year in connection with the investigation.

The Carlton Affair continues a string of sexual allegations against Strauss-Kahn.

The former IMF chief has been linked with a number of sex scandals in the past year – one of which torpedoed his expected plan to run for the French presidency this year. He has not been convicted of any crime.

The case ultimately fell apart after the alleged victim posed significant credibility issues for prosecutors, despite forensic evidence that showed a sexual encounter had occurred.

Strauss-Kahn also faced allegations of attempted rape from a young French writer. Tristane Banon filed a complaint, alleging a 2003 attack, though it could not be pursued because of a statute of limitations.

Strauss-Kahn denied the allegations and has since filed a countersuit in France, alleging slander.

CNN’s Brian Walker contributed to this report.