A society photographer has gone on trial, accused of coercing France’s richest woman into giving him cash and gifts to the tune of one billion euros.
Francois-Marie Banier denies taking advantage of L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. But the 87-year-old’s daughter says he manipulated the billionairess and claims she is mentally weak.
Bettencourt rejects these allegations, insisting she is in full control of her faculties. She and Banier believe her daughter Francoise is simply interested in getting her hands on the inheritance herself.
Complicating the case further, a French government minister and his wife have been drawn into a separate tax evasion scandal surrounding Bettencourt. Both Eric and Florence Woerth deny any wrongdoing.
The spotlight fell on Bettencourt’s financial dealings after secret tape recordings were leaked to the media. They were apparently made by a butler at her home.