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French police free four linked to Bettencourt

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French police free four linked to Bettencourt


Four men linked to French L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt have been freed after being detained for questioning by Police over alleged tax evasion and money laundering.

They include Bettencourt’s wealth manager, Patrice de Maistre seen here, and tax lawyer Fabrice Goguel. They are suspected of funnelling money into off-shore bank accounts.

Francois-Marie Barnier, a society photographer and close friend of Bettencourt, was also released. He’s facing a separate trial accused of abusing 87-year-old Bettencourt’s weak mental state.

Politically embarrassing, the complex affair continues to haunt President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government because of allegations the billionaire made donations to his UMP party.

The manager of a property in the Seychelles, Carlos Vejarano, was also questioned and freed by France’s financial crimes division.

Secret recordings, which were published by French media last month, appear to show Bettencourt and her advisers discussing undeclared bank accounts in Switzerland and the Seychelles.

For the moment no one has been charged, but the public prosecutor has said inquiries are continuing.

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