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New twist in Bettencourt affair

New twist in Bettencourt affair
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Police have raided the offices of Patrice de Maistre, fund manager of the L’Oreal heiress at the center of a political storm.

It comes after Liliane Bettencourt’s accountant alleged thousands of euros had been donated illegally to help fNicolas Sarkozy’s presidential election campaign in 2007.

Sarkozy has denied receiving the cash and accused the accountant of recanting her original story, which appeared on the influential French news website, Mediapart.

But Mediapart says its sticking by its story. Its news director, Francois Bonnet, says the accountant is under judicial and political pressure and in the media spotlight as her allegations implicate the president so she is now tempering her words.

The complex affair also involves Labour Minister Eric Woerth, who was treasurer for Sarkozy’s UMP. His wife was also employed by Bettencourt’s wealth manager.

The scandal originally surfaced as a result of a lawsuit filled by Bettencourt’s estranged daughter, Francoise, against her mother, who is France’s richest woman.

She is suing a celebrity photographer, a close friend of her mother’s, for allegedly exploiting her mental fragility to gain access to her fortune.

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