Strauss-Kahn probed over prostitution ring

Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, partially visible at center, leaves a court after being questioned in a probe into a suspected prostitution ring in Lille, northern France, Monday, March 26, 2012. AP Photo/Michel Spingler

(CBS/AP) LILLE, France - A lawyer for Dominique Strauss-Kahn says the former IMF chief has been handed preliminary charges alleging he was involved in a French prostitution ring.

Investigating judges questioned Strauss-Kahn for several hours Monday. Lawyer Richard Malka told reporters after Strauss-Kahn left that he was accused of procuring prostitutes and involvement in an "organized gang."

Malka says Strauss-Kahn denies wrongdoing. The lawyer also says it is wrong to prosecute Strauss-Kahn for "simple libertine activity."

CBS Radio News correspondent Elaine Cobbe reports that his lawyer says Strauss-Kahn didn't know the women were prostitutes.

The probe into the prostitution ring began in neighboring Belgium. French police say the former IMF chief had sex with women from the prostitute ring in Paris and in Washington, during 2010 and 2011. He faces 20 years in jail.

He was initially questioned on suspicion he benefited from misappropriated company funds, because his businessmen friends who allegedly found the women for the sex parties passed off the costs on their company expense reports.

Under French law, preliminary charges mean authorities have reason to believe a crime was committed but allow more time for investigation.

Strauss-Kahn quit the International Monetary Fund after a New York hotel maid said he sexually assaulted her in May. The charges were later dropped.

Strauss-Kahn NYC court hearing delayed 2 weeks
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The former International Monetary Fund chief had been scheduled to return for a second round of questioning Wednesday, but was unexpectedly summoned Monday, the official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way.

The probe has implicated police and other officials, including two men with ties to Strauss-Kahn. His lawyer has acknowledged that Strauss-Kahn took part in orgies.

Meanwhile, a New York court has postponed a hearing on a lawsuit filed against former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn by the hotel maid who says he sexually assaulted her in his room.

Prosecutors dropped criminal charges against Strauss-Kahn last year. They said they lost faith in his accuser's credibility after a series of lies she told them unrelated to the assault allegations. But she has continued to seek monetary damages in civil court.

Courts spokesman David Bookstaver said Tuesday the hearing will be held March 28. The Bronx hearing originally was set for March 15 before a scheduling conflict arose.

Strauss-Kahn wants the lawsuit dismissed. He says he had diplomatic immunity. He's not required to attend the hearing.

Attorney Kenneth Thompson has said accuser Nafissatou Diallo is looking forward to her day in court.

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