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Key figures held in Bettencourt probe

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Key figures held in Bettencourt probe

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Four people associated with French L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt have been detained for questioning by police over alleged tax evasion and money laundering.

They are; Patrice de Maistre her wealth manager, tax lawyer Fabrice Goguel, Carlos Verjarano who owns property in the Seychelles and Francois Marie Banier, a society photographer who is facing trial accused of abusing 87-year-old Bettencourt’s frailty.

Recently, claims that Bettencourt and her late husband made illegal cash donations to conservative politicians have embarrassed French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government.

On this occasion, enquiries by the financial crimes division are said to centre around undeclared bank accounts in Switzerland and an island in the Seychelles acquired through a bank in Lichtenstein.

Bettencourt, known as the richest woman in France, has called for an audit into financiers managing her fortune to show she is mentally competent.

The move follows an attempt by her daughter to have her mother made a ward of court.