Police seize diaries in L'Oreal probe: lawyer

28th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

French police on Wednesday searched the home of the daughter of L'Oreal cosmetics heiress Liliane Bettencourt amid probes into the billionaire's financial affairs, a lawyer said.

The search was the latest step in a weeks-long scandal that has embarrassed President Nicolas Sarkozy and his government.

Officers took diaries of the husband of Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, the estranged daughter of the 87-year-old heiress, from their home in the upmarket Paris suburb of Neuilly, the daughter's lawyer Olivier Metzner told AFP.

As well as the diaries belonging to the husband, Jean-Pierre Meyers, police seized a computer and already-seen transcriptions of secretly recorded telephone conversations at the heart of the affair, Metzner said.

Le Figaro newspaper's website said the aim of the police raid was to find out what prompted Liliane Bettencourt's butler to secretly record his employer's conversations.

Those tapes allegedly suggest that the heiress discussed major tax evasion with her financial advisor. Her daughter has denied she encouraged the butler to make the tapes.

Bettencourt-Meyers alleges people close to her mother have taken advantage of the heiress, whom she claims is no longer in a fit mental state to manage her 16-billion-euro (20-billion-dollar) fortune.

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 Labour Minister Eric Woerth.

Police are expected to question Woerth himself in coming days as part of their investigations. The minister has said he is keen to give his side of the story.

Metzner alleged the raid on the Bettencourt-Meyers's home was a "decoy" intended to distract from Woerth's involvement.

© 2010 AFP

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