France's richest woman sues estranged daughter over 'abuse'

20th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

France's richest woman, the L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, on Wednesday lodged a suit against her only daughter alleging psychological abuse, one of the multibillionaire's lawyers told AFP.

Lawyer Pascal Wilhelm announced the civil case against Francoise Meyers-Bettencourt after the estranged daughter tried for a third time to have her 87-year-old mother deemed mentally unsound.

"Psychological violence is a very recent offence close to physical abuse," Wilhelm told AFP.

Bettencourt's only daughter earlier this month asked a judge to have her mother made a ward of court. Two previous attempts were rejected because of a lack of medical evidence.

"It is unacceptable to be targeted three times in a short space of time by attempts to be made a ward of court when you have transferred... almost 16 billion euros (22 billion dollars) to your daughter," Wilhelm said on Sunday.

The daughter's lawyer, Olivier Metzner, called the suit a public relations stunt.

"What's funny is that the law governing the charge of psychological abuse concerns vulnerable persons, they're shooting themselves in the foot," Metzner told AFP.

Several judicial investigations are under way into affairs linked to Bettencourt's fortune, including allegations of tax evasion and illegal campaign funding that have implicated French Labour Minister Eric Woerth.

Bettencourt's daughter alleges people close to her mother, including celebrity photographer Francois-Marie Banier, have taken advantage of her and claims she is no longer in a fit mental state to manage her fortune.

© 2010 AFP

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