DOMINIC Strauss-Kahn's lawyers have hired a global private investigation company to work on his defence as he faces sex assault charges.
Guidepost Solutions, headed by former US prosecutors and secret service agents, is expected to dig into his accuser's life and family in West Africa as part of an exhaustive research operation.
Mr Strauss-Kahn resigned from his job as head of the International Monetary Fund after allegations emerged that he had sexually assaulted a New York hotel chambermaid.
Mr Strauss-Kahn, 62, denies all charges and is under armed guard on a $6m (€4.2m) bail, awaiting trial, in a $50,000-a-month townhouse. His alleged victim, a 32-year-old Guinean chambermaid, has disappeared from view.
His lawyers last week denied a report that friends of Mr Strauss-Kahn were considering trying to reach a financial settlement with her family if she dropped her complaint of sexual assault. But they did claim that they possessed information that would "gravely undermine the credibility" of the alleged victim, to the annoyance of prosecutors.
Their comments signalled a likely defence strategy in a case that will largely come down to his testimony against hers about what happened in the hotel suite -- if it reaches trial.
Lawyers for the maid say they have hired additional legal counsel in anticipation of an attack on her reputation and credibility. Two prominent civil rights lawyers have begun to work on behalf of the maid, according to Jeffrey Shapiro, who has been representing her.
There were no witnesses to the alleged attack, nor any recording of it, so the credibility of the former IMF chief and the accusing chambermaid will be crucial. His legal team has already indicated that it will contend that any sexual encounter was consensual.
William Taylor and Benjamin Brafman, his lawyers, hinted at the existence of damaging information, without revealing further details, in a letter sent to the Manhattan district attorney's office.
That letter dealt mainly with their complaints about apparent leaks of information and claims about their client, arguing that they would prejudice potential jurors and damage his prospects of a fair trial.
But they also wrote: "Were we intent on improperly feeding the media frenzy, we could now release substantial information that in our view would seriously undermine the quality of this prosecution and also gravely undermine the credibility of the complainant."
Back in the Guinean maid's village, the family can only sit and wait for news. They have been outraged at reports of the alleged incident.
"It is definitely shocking," her brother Mamoudou said. "It is a sin. You know, in this region, girls get married at 16 and boys at 20 years old at the latest. We do not allow sexual intercourse outside marriage. Girls must be married a virgin."
"Since my sister left over 10 years ago, I have spoken to her once," said Boubacar, 42, her half-brother.
"It was after dad's death. I was in Bissau. I called to give her my condolences but as soon as she saw the number she realised it was from Africa and said: 'Don't bother calling me.'
"She didn't know who was on the other end of the line but when I told her she agreed to talk to me."