France’s Senate commission investigating tax evasion is set to get more media attention than usual on Wednesday, as it welcomes former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, known as DSK in France, for a lecture on the role of banks in tax fraud.
The commission, set up by Communist Party senators, invited DSK to share his expertise and experience as the former French economics minister and IMF chief, in an effort to understand the role played by banks and other financial actors in tax evasion.
DSK was last heard by the French public in 2011, defending himself against claims he sexually assaulted a chamber maid in a Sofitel hotel in New York.
Due to the former Socialist politician’s dramatic downfall, from potential presidential candidate to publically-disgraced alleged rapist, certain figures on the French Right have reacted with shock to his scheduled appearance in the esteemed surroundings of the French Senate on Wednesday.
“It’s a mockery, quite simply,” centre-right opposition UMP deputy Christian Estrosi told French Radio Classique, adding that “for moral reasons,” DSK’s lecture was “not okay.”
UMP senator Gérard Longuet told France’s parliamentary channel LCI that DSK’s appearance was “undesirable.”
“In terms of the dignity of the image of politicians, Dominique Strauss-Kahn has caused a great leap backwards,” he said.
“It would have been reasonable for him not to come, and it would have been reasonable not to invite him,” he added.
Some politicians on the Left, however, have defended the value of DSK’s expert testimony to the Senate.
“For now, DSK hasn’t been convicted,” socialist senator Marie-Noëlle Lienemann told French radio Europe 1.
“I don’t see why he should be in exile” she added.
DSK has been plagued by scandal since the Sofitel sexual assault charges in 2011.
The "Carlton affair," for example, centres around allegations that business leaders and police officials in Lille, including DSK, operated a vice ring supplying girls for sex parties, some of which are said to have taken place at the city's Carlton Hotel.
Earlier this month, however, a prosecutor in Lille asked that charges against him be dropped, in a rare legal victory for 64-year-old DSK.
Separately, French writer Tristane Banon accused him of trying to rape her in 2003. Investigators concluded that while there was evidence of sexual assault, the alleged attack had occurred too long ago to be prosecuted.
Strauss-Kahn was also investigated over an allegation that he had taken part in the gang rape of a Belgian prostitute. The case was dropped when she recanted and said she had consented to sex.
Earlier in June, The Local reported how Italian journalist Myrta Merlino claimed DSK sexually assaulted her in his swanky hotel suite on the fringes of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on an unspecified date in the “late 1990s.”
DSK won’t be the only disgraced former government minister to be given a hearing in parliament on Wednesday, however.
In a strange coincidence of timing, former Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac is set to field questions from his erstwhile colleagues over at the National Assembly on Wednesday afternoon.
The hearing is part of a probe into whether he was given government protection late last year regarding a brewing scandal over, of all things, tax evasion.
Cahuzac was forced to resign from the government and as a deputy, after lying for months over allegations he had channelled €600,000 into a secret Swiss bank account.
He later admitted the offences and was charged in April with “laundering the proceeds of tax evasion,” amid a scandal which dominated the headlines in France and came close to bringing down the government of French President François Hollande.