Strauss-Kahn now a suspect in prostitution ring

Strauss-Kahn now a suspect in prostitution ring

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is being questioned by French police as a suspect in a prostitution ring inquiry, a prosecutor has said.

Strauss-Kahn, once a front-runner for the French presidency, is being held in custody at a police station in Lille, northern France, the BBC reported Tuesday.

Police have questioned a number of prostitutes who have admitted having sex with  Strauss-Kahn. But he insists he did not know that those women were prostitutes.

"I challenge you to distinguish a naked prostitute from any other naked woman," Strauss-Kahn's lawyer Henri Leclerc told French television.

In May 2011, Strauss-Kahn resigned as head of the IMF after he was charged in New York with attempted rape of a hotel maid. The case was later dropped.

French police, in this separate inquiry, have already arrested eight people over  suspicion of organising a prostitution ring and misusing corporate funds to pay for sex.

Three of the suspects were said to have been close to Strauss-Kahn, who is said to have participated in sex parties in Paris and Washington in late 2010 and early 2011.

According to French media, he could be held by police for up to 48 hours.