Francoise Meyers-Bettencourt, the daughter of L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, has been charged with bribing a witness. The case revolves around control of the multibillion fortune.
Celebrity photograher Francois-Marie Banier has accused Francoise Meyers-Bettencourt of bribing witnesses to give evidence against him in an earlier case concerning Liliane Bettencourt's 31 billion-euro ($34 billion) fortune.
Banier alleges that Claire Thibout, a former accountant for Liliane Bettencourt, received a loan of 300,000 euros in late 2012 and a gift of 400,000 euros for false testimonies.
The allegations carry a penalty of up to three years in jail and a 45,000-euro fine if the case goes to trial.
Meyers-Bettencourt's lawyers reject the claim. “She lent money with interest and it will be repaid, so it's not a payment,” Jean Veil told reporters. "We will challenge it," said Jean Veil. "This does not hold water. This charge is totally groundless."
Liliane Bettencourt (L) and Francoise Meyers-Bettencourt.
How it began
Francoise Meyers-Bettencourt was handed control of her mother's finances by a French court in 2011 on the grounds that Liliane Bettencourt was suffering from dementia and had been exploited by Banier.
Meyers-Bettencourt accused the photographer of swindling her mother out of almost 1 billion euros.
After a ruling in 2011 Meyers-Bettencourt agreed to drop her criminal complaint against Banier, but prosecutors proceeded with charges. He was subsequently found guilty.
Banier was convicted of exploiting Bettencourt in 2015 and sentenced to three years in jail, fined 350,000 euros and ordered to pay 158 million euros in damages. He appealed and faced a re-trial in May, with the court set to rule on August 24.
The drama has also involved Sarkozy chargedformer French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was accused of accepting envelopes stuffed with cash from Bettencourt for his 2007 election campaign. That charge was dropped in October 2013 for to lack of evidence.
jbh/jm (Reuters, AFP)