Dominique Strauss-Kahn, ex-chief of the International Monetary Fund, will be "arrested" for 48 hours from tomorrow to face questions about his participation in sex parties with alleged prostitutes in Lille, Paris and Washington.
The garde à vue – a formal questioning under arrest conditions – could take three days but is set to last for only two. After this, Mr Strauss-Kahn could then be put under formal investigation for receiving embezzled funds and for complicity in pimping.
Mr Strauss-Kahn, 62, who was cleared last summer of sexually assaulting a chambermaid in New York, has admitted he took part in sex parties organised by friends.
But the Socialist politician denies knowing that the young women who were present at the parties were prostitutes or that any of the parties were funded, without any legal authorisation, by the companies managed by his friends.
The former IMF chief has been demanding to be allowed to give his side of the story for months, and will get the chance when he appears before investigators in Lille.
Eight people, including a senior police officer and two managers of the upmarket Hotel Carlton in Lille, have already been placed under formal investigation. They are suspected of having helped to organise the parties, using the funds of private companies.
One of the parties is said to have taken place in Washington DC before Mr Strauss-Kahn's arrest on charges of sexual assault in Manhattan last May. But Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyers said he had no idea women at the parties might be prostitutes.
Investigators believe the parties may have been organised – without the approval of the large companies footing the bill – to obtain business or political favours.