By  on July 29, 2010

The home of Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, the daughter of L’Oréal’s largest shareholder, Liliane Bettencourt, was searched by French financial police Wednesday.

Police undertook the search as part of an investigation into infringement of privacy. As reported, Bettencourt’s former butler made recordings of telephone conversations between the heiress and her advisers. The recordings were given to Bettencourt Meyers, who in turn handed them over to the police.

Wednesday’s search was the latest episode in a long-running drama that started in 2007 with Bettencourt Meyers alleging photographer François-Marie Banier’s “exploitation of weakness” with regard to her mother giving him gifts worth up to 1 billion euros, or $1.3 billion at current exchange. The telephone recordings led to that trial, which had been scheduled to kick off July 1, but stalled while supplementary information was gathered. The recorded conversations also led to questions about alleged political party funding; Bettencourt’s dealings with Eric Woerth, the French labor minister, and his wife, Florence Woerth, and the ownership of an island in the Seychelles.

According to press reports, Woerth will be questioned in the coming days.

L’Oréal, which was founded by Bettencourt’s father, Eugène Schueller, also recently became embroiled in l’Affaire Bettencourt when one of the beauty giant’s shareholders alleged Banier benefited from a contract of convenience with the firm and filed a complaint over alleged misuse of corporate funds. The complaint, which was filed “against X,” led the public prosecutor’s office to open a preliminary inquiry.

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