French police question L'Oreal heiress

26th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Police probing a financial scandal that rocked President Nicolas Sarkozy's government questioned France's richest woman, L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, on Monday, a judicial source told AFP.

Fraud squad officers visited the 87-year-old billionaire at her home in the chic Paris suburb of Neuilly, to ask in particular about two Swiss bank accounts and an island in the Seychelles.

Secret recordings of conversations between Bettencourt and her financial advisor appear to show that she had sought to use the Swiss accounts to escape French taxes, while the true ownership of the island is unclear.

The tapes -- made by a butler and leaked to the media -- also suggest that Bettencourt was a generous donor to Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign and to a political association run by his top fundraiser Eric Woerth.

Woerth is now labour minister and formerly, as budget minister, was charged with fighting tax evasion. Both he and Sarkozy have denied any wrongdoing or conflict of interest, and several investigations are underway.

© 2010 AFP

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