French police detain Bettencourt finance advisor: officials

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French police detained the financial advisor of L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for questioning Friday, in a probe that has embarrassed President Nicolas Sarkozy's government, officials said.

The financial crimes squad detained the advisor, Patrice de Maistre, for the second time in a probe of Bettencourt's finances that has also implicated Labour Minister Eric Woerth, a key member of Sarkozy's government.

Woerth was questioned by police on Thursday and has denied any wrongdoing in the affair linked to the fortune of Bettencourt, who is the billionaire heiress to the L'Oreal cosmetics empire and France's richest woman.

Judicial sources said Friday that Maistre would be asked to respond to Woerth's testimony as well to allegations that he had handled illegal payments to Sarkozy's presidential election campaign.

© 2010 AFP

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