Police swoop on L'Oréal heiress daughter's home
French police searched the home of the estranged daughter of L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt on Wednesday, as prosecutors investigate the awarding of the Légion d’honneur to Bettencourt’s financial adviser by Labour Minister Eric Woerth.
The raid aimed to establish whether tapes of Bettencourt made by her butler were done so on the orders of Françoise Meyers-Bettencourt, who claims that photographer François-Marie Banier has taken advantage of her mother’s age for personal gain.
Meyers-Bettencourt, who is on holiday, was not present when the forces of the law called. Her lawyer, Olivier Metzner, declared that they could take what they wanted, because she has “nothing to hide”.
He accused investigators of pursuing questions which are of no interest while ignoring embarrassing questions.
The recordings show that Bettencourt’s financial adviser, Patrice de Maistre, was tipped off in 2009 by one of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s advisers that the state prosecutor was planning to drop the investigation into Meyers-Bettencourt’s claims.
“I don’t understand why the prosecutor, who is mentioned in the recordings, is still in charge of the inquiry,” Metzner told the Reuters news agency.
If the recordings are found to have been obtained by subterfuge, their legal value is undermined.
Also on Wednesday, an investigation was opened into de Maistre’s Légion d’honneur, which was awarded at the recommendation of Woerth, who was finance minister at the time. De Maistre received the honour in January 2008, less than five months after giving Woerth’s wife, Florence, a job in the team that administered Bettencourt’s wealth.
Investigators announced Wednesday that they will question Woerth before the end of the week over allegations which have rocked the Sarkozy government.
He is expected to have to answer accusations of conflict of interest, in regard to his wife’s employment, and of illegal political funding for Sarkozy’s presidential campaign while he was in charge of the UMP party’s finances.
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