Strauss-Kahn was called in by investigating magistrates in the northern French city of Lille two days earlier than expected and charged with an offence that could carry 20 years in prison if he is convicted.
"He firmly declares that he is not guilty of these acts and never had the least inkling that the women he met could have been prostitutes," said Richard Malka, one of Strauss-Kahn's counsel. "Dominique Strauss-Kahn was placed under judicial control and was forbidden from contacting defendants, civil plaintiffs, witnesses and the press regarding the procedures," prosecutors said in a statement.
Strauss-Kahn's name came up as police were investigating a pimping operation that saw sex workers from brothels over the Belgian border being brought to France for orgies in high-class hotels in Lille and Paris. Strauss-Kahn admits that he took part in some of these parties, one of which was said to involve women being flown to Washington to entertain him while he was still managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
But, through his lawyer, he has denied knowing the escorts were paid. Using prostitutes is not illegal in France, but prosecutors are seeking proof that Strauss-Kahn was aware the parties were arranged by an organised pimping ring and paid for by other guests misusing company funds.
Strauss-Kahn told police he did not suspect the women were prostitutes because he was introduced to them by senior police officers. lawyers will also be in court on Wednesday in New York for the first hearing in a civil case brought against him by Nafissatou Diallo, a hotel maid who alleges he sexually assaulted her.