Maid in Strauss-Kahn sex scandal is now a New York restaurant owner

A woman walks past the Chez Amina restaurant in New York's borough of Bronx on Feb 3, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
A woman walks past the Chez Amina restaurant in New York's borough of Bronx on Feb 3, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - The hotel maid who accused then IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault four years ago - a sensational case that left his career in tatters - is now running a New York restaurant.

The six-minute encounter in May 2011 between Nafissatou Diallo and one of the world's most powerful men led to his resignation from the International Monetary Fund, ultimately ended his marriage, and shattered his dreams of becoming French president.

Diallo initially went to ground but recently moved back to her old neighbourhood in the Bronx, where she runs Chez Amina - which is serving up African, American and Spanish food.

The restaurant, next to a mosque and opposite a Pentecostal church, opened in May and operates daily from 5am to 3am, though it was briefly closed on Tuesday - apparently because of the many journalists dropping by.

But late on Monday, a smiling Diallo - dressed in jeans, a blue shirt and multi-coloured headscarf - was there to welcome customers in from the cold for plates of burgers, rice dishes or take-away.

"The best cuisine in New York," says the menu.

But Diallo herself quickly clammed up in front of a journalist.

"I don't speak French," said the immigrant from French-speaking Guinea. She then politely refused to answer questions in English and retreated behind the counter.

The restaurant is furnished with red faux leather banquettes and TV screens screwed to the wall, with closed-circuit cameras providing security.

Terms of the confidential settlement of Diallo's civil suit against Strauss-Kahn have never been disclosed.

Diallo has not given an interview since the incident, but some of her customers seemed to know who she is.

"It's that woman," said a French-speaking African client in his 40s, who refused to give his name, before exiting with his take-out meal.

"A friend recommended the restaurant to me, it seems very good," he added.

Her former lawyer Douglas Wigdor says Diallo and her daughter are doing well. He told French radio RTL this week that while she may have more money than ever before, she would have preferred to have stayed a chambermaid and that nothing had happened.

Diallo accused Strauss-Kahn of jumping on her naked and forcing her to perform oral sex, but New York prosecutors dropped the charges because they said they doubted her credibility.

Strauss-Kahn admitted a sexual encounter took place in the Sofitel hotel in May 2011 but insisted it was consensual.

Strauss-Kahn went on trial in France on Monday accused of pimping as part of a prostitution ring.

He risks spending up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to US$1.7 million (S$2.3 million) if convicted.

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