Friend faces fraud trial over L`Oreal billionaire

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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