France`s richest woman files suit over secret tapes

France`s richest woman, Liliane Bettencourt, filed a police complaint against her daughter on Friday over the release of tapes reportedly revealing that the L`Oreal heiress conspired to evade taxes.

Updated: Jun 18, 2010, 23:30 PM IST

Paris: France`s richest woman, Liliane
Bettencourt, filed a police complaint against her daughter
on Friday over the release of tapes reportedly revealing that the
L`Oreal heiress conspired to evade taxes.

Bettencourt`s ex-butler allegedly secretly recorded
conversations between the 87-year-old heiress and her
financial adviser that were later handed over to the
billionaire`s daughter.
Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, who has been waging a
bitter court battle against her mother over her handling of
the family fortune, is accused of violation of privacy, theft
and perjury, said the mother`s lawyer George Kiejman.

Kiejman charged that the butler was working for
Bettencourt-Meyers.

"We can assume that there was an espionage ring put in
place for the benefit of and at the behest of her daughter,"
he said.

French police arrested the ex-butler on Wednesday and a
computer expert was later detained for questioning over the
tapes recorded between May 2009 and May 2010 in Bettencourt`s
villa in the posh suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine.

The butler`s tapes are the latest twist in a long-running
family feud between the billionaire and her daughter, who
claims Bettencourt is mentally unfit after she gave lavish
gifts to a photographer-friend.
The photographer, Francois-Marie Banier, goes on trial
next month to answer charges that he took advantage of the
heiress to the L`Oreal cosmetics fortune for receiving gifts
worth one billion euros (USD 1.24 billion).

According to the Mediapart website, the recordings reveal
that Bettencourt hid some 80 million euros in Swiss bank
accounts that her financial adviser planned to move following
a Franco-Swiss tax cooperation accord.

PTI