Friend faces fraud trial over L`Oreal billionaire
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Last Updated: Wednesday, June 30, 2010, 18:46
  
Paris: L'Oreal cosmetics heir Liliane Bettencourt's daughter takes on a celebrity photographer at his trial tomorrow, accusing him of cheating the ageing French billionaire out of a billion euros.

The bitter battle over the family's fortune has been complicated by a separate tax evasion scandal that hit Bettencourt this month, implicating Labour Minister Eric Woerth and embarrassing Nicolas Sarkozy's government.

Thursday's case pits the photographer and socialite Francois-Marie Banier, against Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, the daughter of 87-year-old Liliane, France's richest woman.

Banier, dubbed "photographer to the stars" after shooting the likes of US actor Johnny Depp and Princess Caroline of Monaco, became close friends with Bettencourt after meeting her at a dinner party in 1969.

The charge sheet accuses Banier, 63, of "fraudulently" exploiting the age and infirmity of Bettencourt, who gave him masterpiece paintings, cash and insurance policies worth a billion euros (USD 1.2 billion).

Both he and Liliane Bettencourt have rejected the daughter's claims and accused her of trying to cash in on her inheritance prematurely.

"I give to my loved ones and that is my choice," Le Monde newspaper quoted Bettencourt as saying recently.

Liliane Bettencourt was the sole heir of the global shampoo and beauty products company L'Oreal that her father founded. Her current fortune has been estimated at 17 billion euros (USD 20 billion).

PTI


First Published: Wednesday, June 30, 2010, 18:46


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