Dominique Strauss-Kahn, centre, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), departs a NYPD precinct [Reuters]

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is no stranger to scandal. In 2008, a year after his appointment as managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Frenchman was investigated by the organisation over an affair with a junior colleague, Piroska Nagy, a Hungarian economist.

Initially, the scandal appeared potentially damaging, but the IMF stood by Strauss-Kahn, reasoning that he did not abuse his office and that the relationship was consensual. He apologised for "an error of judgement", while Nagy subsequently left the IMF.

On May 14, 2011, Strauss-Kahn, who was expected to challenge French president Nicolas Sarkozy in elections next year, was charged by New York prosecutors with a criminal sexual act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment over an alleged hotel sex attack, police said.

A hotel maid said she entered his suite at the luxury Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan's Times Square believing the IMF chief was out. Moments later, a naked Strauss-Kahn pounced on her and threw her on the bed, but she managed to fight him off, according to police statements recorded from the maid.

Strauss-Kahn, who is married to the American-born French journalist Anne Sinclair, has yet to declare he will stand as a Socialist Party candidate for the presidency, but recent opinion polls showed he was riding high for the highest job in France.

How will sexual assault charges affect Strauss-Kahn's future at the IMF and in French politics?