New York: Lawyers for the hotel maid accusing former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault denied they had offered to hinder criminal proceedings in return for a payoff.
   
"The story is false," said Douglas Wigdor, who represents Nafissatou Diallo. "It is another baseless attack against Ms Diallo and her attorneys designed to distract people from the fact that Mr Strauss-Kahn attacked and sexually assaulted an innocent woman inside the Sofitel."
   
He was denying US media reports that the prosecutor's office was looking into whether Diallo had sought such an arrangement during secret settlement talks.
   
The prosecutor's office said it had no comment on the reports.
   
Citing unnamed sources, The Wall Street Journal said Kenneth Thompson, another attorney for the Sofitel hotel maid, had indicated he would work to see that the criminal trial foundered in return for a civil settlement.
   
A similar story in the online Daily Beast news site quoted unnamed sources close to the case saying that settlement talks took place in mid to late June.
   
If true, the reports would raise further doubts about Diallo's credibility ahead of a key hearing on Tuesday at which prosecutors are expected to announce whether or not they intend to pursue the case.

The arrest of Strauss-Kahn in May on charges of attempting to rape the housekeeper sent shock waves through France -- where he was a leading politician -- and the International Monetary Fund, from which he soon resigned.

(Agencies)