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PARIS (Reuters) - A French public prosecutor recommended on Tuesday closing an investigation into alleged sex offences in which former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn risks trial on a charge of "aggravated pimping".
It is now up to judges investigating the case to decide whether or not to drop the prosecution, the last legal proceedings the former Socialist presidential hopeful faces over his sexual behavior.
Strauss-Kahn, 64, was placed under formal investigation in March 2012 in the so-called Carlton affair, named after a hotel in the northern city of Lille at the centre of police inquiries into sex parties attended by prostitutes and the then managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
A charge of gang rape was dropped after a prostitute withdrew her accusation but the probe continued on the grounds that Strauss-Kahn's involvement in sex parties attended by prostitutes could be construed as pimping - an argument defense lawyers said was invalid.
Frequenting a prostitute is not illegal in France. Strauss-Kahn acknowledged having taken part in swingers' parties, but said he had no idea the women were prostitutes.
The public prosecutor recommended that 12 other suspects in the Carlton case be tried on charges including conspiracy to procure prostitutes, fraud and abuse of corporate funds. However, he called for charges to be dropped against a former regional director of construction group Eiffage, who was suspected of having paid prostitutes to attend the parties.
Strauss-Kahn was on the brink of entering the 2012 French presidential race when he was arrested in New York in May 2011 and charged with sexually assaulting hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo at a Times Square hotel. He denied the charge.
U.S. prosecutors dropped criminal charges months later, prompting Diallo to start a civil lawsuit which ended with an out-of-court settlement last December.
The former finance minister's legal problems continued on his return to France, with prosecutors investigating his alleged use of hired prostitutes at sex parties in Lille, Paris and Washington.
Since he resigned from the IMF and quit politics, Strauss-Kahn has given occasional lectures and acted as a consultant, but his public appearances have been dogged by feminist demonstrators.
He and his third wife, journalist Anne Sinclair, divorced in March this year.
(Reporting by Pierre Savary and Chine Labbe; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Paul Taylor)