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European Journal

France: The L'Oreal Funding Scandal

The Liliane Bettencourt scandal has all the ingredients of a prime time soap opera and has put French President Nicolas Sarkozy under intense pressure.

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Liliane Bettencourt

President Sarkozy denies claims that his presidential campaign was funded illegally by France's richest woman, but the affair has brought his popularity to an all-time low. 87-year-old Bettencourt reportedly has a net worth of €17 billion, largely in holdings of stock in cosmetics giant L’Oréal. The scandal was first brought to light by her daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers. It started out as a legal dispute over the family fortune between the two, but when prosecutors opened a separate investigation into Liliane Bettencourt's tax affairs, her political connections came under the spotlight - including her donations to Sarkozy's conservative party, the UMP. Even her butler and her accountant have given their version of events.