A French government minister at the heart of a celebrity-turned-political scandal is facing growing pressure to resign.
It has been claimed that Eric Woerth gave France’s richest woman, Liliane Bettencourt, a 30-million euro tax rebate. He denies personally approving the refund, which although unpopular is above board.
However, Woerth’s wife used to manage the fortune of L’Oreal heiress Bettencourt, who is being looked into for tax evasion at a time when Woerth’s job was to chase up tax dodgers.
The fiscal murkiness only came to light when celebrity photographer Francois-Marie Banier was taken to court by Bettencourt’s daughter. Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers accuses Banier of taking advantage of her 87-year old mother’s mental frailty to the tune of a billion euros.
It was secret recordings used in the civil trial that exposed Woerth and turned a family feud into a political storm which has undermined the minister who is now in charge of deeply unpopular pension reform plans.