Paris: A scandal over secretly taped
conversations involving France`s richest woman, Liliane
Bettencourt, threatened today to engulf a high-profile
minister in President Nicolas Sarkozy`s cabinet.
Labour Minister Eric Woerth, who is leading the
government`s pension reform, was forced to hit back after his
wife was linked to the furore over the tapes reportedly
revealing that the 87-year-old billionaire plotted to evade
"Enough is enough. My wife is going to file a complaint,"
Woerth said in an interview with several French media. He
vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
Woerth`s wife Florence managed part of Bettencourt`s
financial affairs from 2007 until this year and her ties to
the heiress of the L`Oreal cosmetics fortune have come under
scrutiny following reports of the secret tapes.
The conversations -- transcripts of which were published
by the Mediapart website last week -- reveal that Bettencourt
allegedly hid money in Swiss bank accounts while making big
donations to friends in the governing UMP party.
The tapes were recorded by Bettencourt`s former butler
and have brought a new twist to a legal saga between the
billionaire and her daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers,
who sees her mother as no longer fit to manage the family
The makeup heiress ranks 17th on the Forbes list of the
world`s billionaires, with a fortune estimated at USD 20
The scandal comes at a delicate time for Sarkozy who is
seeking to push through an overhaul of the pensions system in
the face of opposition from the unions who have called for