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Ex-IMF chief queried in prostitution case

French police questioned former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn all day Tuesday in a probe into a suspected hotel prostitution ring.

Strauss-Kahn, a one-time French presidential hopeful whose political career was derailed by an accusation of sexual assault in New York, arrived at the police station in the northern city of Lille for a prearranged morning appointment. He hadn't emerged by Tuesday night, and French media reported that he would be held overnight.

Police are probing a suspected prostitution ring in France and neighboring Belgium that has implicated police and other officials. They have questioned prostitutes who said they had sex with Strauss-Kahn during 2010 and 2011 at a luxury hotel in Paris, a restaurant in the French capital and also in Washington, D.C.

French law permits police to question Strauss-Kahn for up to 96 hours with a judge's approval.

Strauss-Kahn lived in the U.S. capital while he was head of the IMF before resigning his position in May, after he was charged by New York police with making a hotel maid perform oral sex. The charges were later dropped.

Two men with ties to Strauss-Kahn have been put under preliminary investigation in France on charges including organizing a prostitution ring and misuse of corporate funds.

Strauss-Kahn's name surfaced in the investigation last fall, and his attorney has asked that his client be allowed to tell his side of the story. One of Strauss-Kahn's attorneys has said his client never knew the women at orgies he attended were prostitutes.

"He could easily not have known, because as you can imagine, at these kinds of parties you're not always dressed, and I challenge you to distinguish a naked prostitute from any other naked woman," Henri Leclerc told French radio Europe 1 in December.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, has been married for two decades to journalist Anne Sinclair, recently named editor of the upcoming French version of the Huffington Post.

Investigators are seeking to discover if prostitutes were paid using corporate funds from a large French construction company, Eiffage.

"If these parties and these trips across the Atlantic were being financed by a major French group for purposes of prostitution, obviously that puts a lot of people in deep trouble, because it is a misuse of corporate money," said Christopher Mesnooh, a legal expert who is not linked to the Strauss-Kahn case.