Former IMF chief Strauss-Kahn awaits trial verdict on pimping charges

A French court will rule on Friday whether former International Monetary Fund (IMF) boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn is guilty of sex crimes and if the man once tipped to become president of his country goes to prison. -- PHOTO: AFP
A French court will rule on Friday whether former International Monetary Fund (IMF) boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn is guilty of sex crimes and if the man once tipped to become president of his country goes to prison. -- PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (REUTERS) - A French court will rule on Friday whether former International Monetary Fund (IMF) boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn is guilty of sex crimes and if the man once tipped to become president of his country goes to prison.

Four years after sex assault accusations by a New York hotel maid ended his political ambitions and a stellar career as head of the IMF, Strauss-Kahn will learn whether another vice case in his home country will lead to his conviction.

The 66-year-old, who settled financially with Sofitel maid Nafissatou Diallo after New York prosecutors abandoned criminal charges in 2011, stands accused in France in a totally separate case of instigating the organisation of orgies with prostitutes.

Since returning to Paris after his abruptly-ended IMF stint in Washington, Strauss-Kahn has sought to start a new life with a now troubled venture in investment banking, and a new female partner after celebrity journalist wife Anne Sinclair left him.

Ever since his US legal woes ended, he has been fighting off accusations in France of further sex offences. He flatly denies any wrongdoing.

In the so-called Carlton affair, named after a luxury hotel, the widely-acclaimed economist and French finance minister of the late 1990s has been tried on charges that he instigated sex parties with prostitutes.

While frequenting prostitutes is not a crime in France, the charge is of "aggravated pimping" or procuring prostitutes, is. Conviction can carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 1.5 million euros (S$2.2 million).

Strauss-Kahn and his lawyers argue that he has an appetite for rougher-than-average sex but was never aware that the women he frolicked with at parties and hotels in Paris, Lille and Washington, mostly while in the powerful IMF post, were prostitutes. They also deny that he in any way was an instigator in procuring of their services.

During hearings in February, a state prosecutor called for his acquittal "pure and simple" for lack of proof.

In France, however, independence rules mean judicial magistrates who investigate a case can order a trial even if state prosecutors, who are tied to the justice ministry, disagree. That is what happened in the case of Strauss-Kahn.

A verdict is due at 11am (5pm Friday Singapore time).

The Lille ruling marks the final episode of a vice saga that began live on TV where he was shown walking handcuffed through New York streets after police escorted him off a plane about to leave for Paris.

The affair felled one of the world's most powerful financial policymakers days before he was, by his own admission, going to announce a bid for the presidency of France in the 2012 election. "DSK", as he is known to many French, was runaway favourite in opinion polls at the time.

He has since set up his own business consultancy firm. Media talk of a political comeback fizzled out long ago. He has made appearances at banking conferences as a paid guest speaker and took part in a troubled investment venture with a partner who committed suicide.

Anne Sinclair, the ultra-wealthy heiress to an art dealer family's assets, split from Strauss-Kahn after their return to Paris and has been active in the French media.