Ten stand trial for 'exploiting' L'Oreal heiress

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Source: www.etreriche.fr
Source: www.etreriche.fr
Ten people have been accused of exploiting 92-year-old L’Oreal tycoon, Liliane Bettencourt out of ‘hundreds of millions’ in a saga that's even seen former president Nicolas Sarkozy investigated for 'manipulating campaign pledges'.

Reported to be the world's third richest woman, the elderly heiress has been locked in a bitter feud with her daughter, Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers for at least eight years.

Filed complaints go as far back as 2007, with Françoise initially accusing photographer Francois-Marie Banier, one of her mother's closest friends, of taking hundreds of millions of euros in artwork, cash and other favours. Which then expanded to include nine more closest advisers and staff.

'Taking advantage'

In 2011, Liliane was officially declared unfit to run her own affairs after being diagnosed with having dementia since 2006, and is now under the care of one of her grandsons.

It is this mental frailty Francoise refers to in court this week, accusing Banier of taking advantage of her mother's illness to deliberately "shatter" their relationship.

At the time, Bettencourt had told her daughter she no longer wanted to have anything to do with her, and at one point even made Banier one of her heirs, although this was later revoked.

Banier argued on the stand that the heiress "found pleasure in giving the money​" and had all her faculties when he knew her.

The case continues.

Sarkozy saga

In March 2013, French magistrates dropped their investigation into Sarkozy allegedly taking advantage of Bettencourt's condition by accepting tens of thousands of euros in illegal campaign contributions on the way to his 2007 election victory.

Sarkozy had repeatedly denied the allegations, whilst his lawyer Thierry Herzog stated that the case was "incoherent and unjust" and that he would be appealing.

Various litigation experts at the time reported that if the former president was indeed found guilty, the 57-year-old would be have been facing a maximum three-year jail sentence and a hefty fine, not to mention an irreversible dent to his political career.

Following the magistrates announcement, the former French President took to his Facebook page to declare that he had been found “innocent,” before listing various drills he had been subjected to by investigators, including 22 hours of questioning.

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