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Bettencourt soap opera


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L'Oreal heir Liliane Bettencourt to list foreign assets

Adam Sage

720930-france-cosmetics-trial-bettencourt-banier.jpgL'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, left, and her daughter Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers. Source: AFP

<span style="font-size:10.5pt;">SHE is the richest woman in France, with a $20 billion fortune from L'Oreal, and possessions including an island in the Seychelles.

But Liliane Bettencourt, whose father founded the cosmetics empire, looked increasingly isolated last night as her advisers sought to limit the fallout from conversations recorded secretly by her butler and passed to her estranged daughter.

The butler, who has not been named by the French media, had worked for Mrs Bettencourt for 20 years, and says he hid a dictating machine in her dining room because he wanted to prove that she was being misled by her advisers. French police took a less charitable view of his actions, arresting him on suspicion of infringing Mrs Bettencourt's right to privacy.

The "butlergate tapes" have proved to be a bombshell for Mrs Bettencourt and much of the Parisian establishment. They revealed, for instance, that the 87-year-old heiress held a Swiss bank account and owned D'Arros island in the Seychelles but had not declared either to tax officials.

Last night Mrs Bettencourt sought to set the record straight by announcing that she was ready to divulge the full extent of her wealth. "I have decided to declare all of my family assets that are currently abroad, in co-operation with the French tax authorities," said the woman estimated to be the world's 17th-richest person. She said she had paid taxes of €400 million in France over the past 10 years.

Her statement failed to end the scandal, which threatened to engulf President Sarkozy's Government and notably Eric Woerth, the Minister for Work, whose wife, Florence, managed Mrs Bettencourt's assets between 2007 and 2010.

Mr Woerth, who led a high-profile campaign against fiscal evasion in his previous post as budget minister, denied that his wife had been simultaneously helping Mrs Bettencourt to avoid paying French tax.

As opposition politicians bayed for blood at what they said was evidence of the incestuous nature of the French elite, the minister ruled out resigning and sought to appease public opinion. His wife had resigned from the company that advised L'Oreal's heiress, he said.

The background to the controversy is a family dispute over gifts worth about euros 1 billion made by Mrs Bettencourt to Francois-Marie Banier, a society photographer who befriended her.

Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, Mrs Bettencourt's daughter, claims that her frail, elderly mother was exploited by Mr Banier, who is to go on trial next month for the alleged offence of "abuse of weakness". He denies the allegations, as does Mrs Bettencourt, who says that her daughter is acting out of spite at her friendship.

http://www.theaustra...o-1225882597492</span>

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<object width="560" height="340"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiBinTP6gVk&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1?color1=0xffffff&amp;color2=0xffffff"></param><param'>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiBinTP6gVk&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1?color1=0xffffff&amp;color2=0xffffff"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiBinTP6gVk&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1?color1=0xffffff&amp;color2=0xffffff" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="560" height="340"></embed></object>

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Ohhhhhh this is really quite delicious.

For the record, I think L'Oreal makes fabulous makeup and haircare but some of the most atrocious skincare on the market and with their research dollars, it's insulting.

In any case, Madame Bettencourt must be mortified, but she's still very sprightly at 87 and doesn't seem to be a woman to be toyed with.

The spying butler, the massive fortune, possible tax evasion, a gigolo, a tropical island and a damaged mother/daughter relationship. THIS is what soaps should be aspiring to!

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So has she really published the list of her assets? I doubt it, but... I also haven't seen anything about it after her announcement. This also doesn't bode well for Sarko, maybe DSK really will replace him in 2012.

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I don't like Sarko at all. Really hate this guy. Not my opinions politically speaking but that's not the problem (Jacques Chirac was not my cup of tea either before but he was so much more tolerable). Sarko is so obsessed with power and money, it is sickening.

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Ohhhhhh this is really quite delicious.

For the record, I think L'Oreal makes fabulous makeup and haircare but some of the most atrocious skincare on the market and with their research dollars, it's insulting.

In any case, Madame Bettencourt must be mortified, but she's still very sprightly at 87 and doesn't seem to be a woman to be toyed with.

The spying butler, the massive fortune, possible tax evasion, a gigolo, a tropical island and a damaged mother/daughter relationship. THIS is what soaps should be aspiring to!

i LOVE it!

And i am glad you said about their skin. What is the best OTC skin product?

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i LOVE it!

And i am glad you said about their skin. What is the best OTC skin product?

Trust DF's recommendations for skincare. He knows of what he speaks. I'll vouch for it!

And this RL soap opera is fascinating but also highlights just how different the rich are from the rest of us! Although I laugh at how everybody singles out Liliane Bettencourt for tax evasion when everybody above a certain salary bracket does the same in France. As for that François Banier, c'est un drôle de coco and a crook.

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