Fraud squad questions Liliane Bettencourt
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Police questioned L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt on Monday, in bid to get to the bottom of a financial scandal implicating senior members of the French government. Fraud squad officers spent about two hours with the 87-year-old billionaire at her home in the Paris suburb of Neuilly.
The interview was “very courteous” but focused on past events that Mrs Bettencourt could not always recall in great detail, according to her lawyer, George Kiejman.
The officers also searched Bettencourt’s office, Kiejman said.
Their investigation is centred on allegations that Bettencourt sought to avoid paying taxes in France by placing money in Swiss bank accounts and not declaring her ownership of an island in the Seychelles.
The alleged tax evasion came to light with the release of secret recordings of conversations between the heiress and her financial advisor.
The same tapes suggest that Bettencourt made hefty cash donations to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign and to a political organisation run by the president’s
chief fundraiser, Eric Woerth, who, as Budget Minister at the time, was responsible for fighting tax evasion.
Meanwhile Woerth’s wife Florence was employed by the company that manages Bettencourt’s estate.
Both Woerth and Sarkozy deny any conflict of interest.
Police are expected to question Woerth later this week.
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