(Reuters) - A New York judge dropped all criminal sexual assault charges against ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Tuesday after prosecutors lost faith in the credibility of his accuser.

Following are some key facts about Strauss-Kahn.

* EARLY LIFE

-- Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, on April 25, 1949, Strauss-Kahn began his career as assistant professor, then professor of economics at the University of Paris in 1978. He was then appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Economic Planning Agency, serving from 1981 to 1986.

-- He was elected a deputy to France's National Assembly in 1986, where he chaired the Finance Committee from 1988 to 1991.

LIFE AT THE TOP

-- An architect of France's economic recovery in the late 1990s, Strauss-Kahn, known as "DSK," served in a Socialist government as finance minister in 1997-99. He cut the public deficit to qualify France for the euro and took steps that led to the privatization of some state firms.

-- He resigned from Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's government in 1999 after being caught up in a corruption scandal over a student insurance fund. A court later cleared him.

-- Strauss-Kahn was defeated for the Socialist nomination for the 2007 presidential election by Segolene Royal, but was surprisingly proposed as a candidate to run the IMF by the eventual winner, Nicolas Sarkozy, a conservative rival.

-- After taking over the IMF in November 2007, Strauss-Kahn won praise for putting the Fund at the center of global efforts to cope with the financial meltdown of 2007-09. He introduced sweeping changes to help countries in need, and oversaw reforms that gave emerging market countries greater voting power in the institution.

* SCANDAL

-- Strauss-Kahn has been no stranger to controversy about his private and public life. He was investigated by the IMF in 2008 over possible abuse of power after an affair with a senior IMF economist who subsequently left the fund. The probe cleared him of abuse of power and he apologized publicly for "a serious error of judgment."

-- On May 14, 2011, he was arrested and charged with the attempted rape and sexual abuse of a hotel maid in New York. Facing an international furor, he resigned from the IMF.

-- Strauss-Kahn pleaded not guilty in court and vehemently denied the charges.

-- On July 1 he was released from house arrest after prosecutors said the hotel maid who accused him of attempted rape lied to a grand jury and made other false statements.

-- Despite the judge's dismissal on August 23 of the criminal case, a formal end to the matter awaited the outcome of a last-ditch emergency appeal. Strauss-Kahn also faces a civil suit brought by Diallo accusing him of sexually assaulting her in a "violent sadistic attack."

-- In another possible scandal, French writer Tristane Banon filed a criminal complaint accusing him of trying to rape her in 2003 when she went to interview the former French finance minister in a Paris apartment. A lawyer for Strauss-Kahn said that he had filed a counter-complaint for defamation.

* POLITICAL STATUS

-- Despite being based in Washington while running the IMF, Strauss-Kahn continued to spend a lot of time in France, fanning speculation that he was considering re-entering politics as a Socialist candidate for the next presidential election in 2012.

-- His arrest all but ended his presidential hopes, just weeks before he had been expected to declare his candidacy.

(Additional writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Mark Heinrich)