L’Oréal heiress court saga continues as daughter is accused of bribery

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

L’Oréal heiress court saga continues as daughter is accused of bribery

Related tags Liliane bettencourt

More money, more problems as the saying goes. Which seems to be ringing true for the family behind the L’Oréal empire of late.

Elderly heiress and dementia sufferer, Liliane Bettencourt has been locked into a court battle with her daughter, Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers for almost a decade as allegations surfaced around bribery and exploitation.

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.

By 2011, Meyers reached a deal with Banier to drop her complaint against him, but prosecutors proceeded with charges and he was later found guilty and sentenced to three years in jail and ordered to pay €158 million in damages.

He appealed and faced a re-trial in May which the court will make its final ruling on in August.

In the meantime, he’s accusing Françoise of bribing witnesses to give evidence against him, specifically a former accountant of Liliane’s; Claire Thibout who Banier alleges received a loan of €300,000 in late 2012 and a gift of €400,000 for her false testimonies. 

Meyers-Bettencourt’s lawyers say the loan was made to Thibout after the daughter of the heiress dropped her complaint against Banier and that she therefore had no cause to bribe witnesses against him.

The case continues.

A brief history…

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

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

At the time, the elderly heiress 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.

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