November 12, 2011
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, forced to quit as head of the IMF and shelve aspirations to become the next French president, had hoped to find solace in France after criminal charges were dropped against him in New York over the alleged attempted rape of a hotel cleaner. But he is dominating the front pages again after his name was linked to a high-profile investigation into an alleged prostitution ring at a luxury hotel in Lille.
The Hotel Carlton affair centres on allegations of pimping at top hotels in the northern French city, where women from France and massage parlours in Belgium were allegedly supplied for hotel customers and local officials. Eight people are under formal investigation, including a senior police officer, a local barrister and businessmen. Five have been imprisoned as the inquiry continues.
The investigation raises questions about the links between police and business figures and the underworld of sex work in France and Belgium. Prostitution involving people over the age of 18 is not illegal in France but pimping and living off the benefits of it is.
The affair took a new turn after Strauss-Kahn’s name came up in statements made to investigators, according to a series of leaked transcripts published in the French media in recent weeks.