By  on July 27, 2010

The Bettencourt saga continues.

Liliane Bettencourt, L’Oréal’s largest shareholder and daughter of the French beauty giant’s founder, was questioned by French financial police Mondayabout subjects including alleged political party funding and the ownership of D’Arros Island in the Seychelles.

Bettencourt was asked about her relationship with Eric Woerth, the French labor minister, and his wife Florence Woerth, who formerly oversaw part of her fortune, Georges Kiejman, Bettencourt’s lawyer, told members of the press.

The questioning of Bettencourt is the latest twist in a convoluted tale that started with the 87-year-old heiress’ daughter, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, initiating legal proceedings against photographer François-Marie Banier in 2007. Bettencourt Meyers alleges Banier’s “exploitation of weakness” in light of Bettencourt showering him with gifts worth up to 1 billion euros, or $1.3 billion at current exchange.

The family drama took an unexpected twist when recordings of telephone conversations between Bettencourt and her advisers made by her former butler were given to Bettencourt Meyers. Subsequently, the hearing scheduled to start July 1 pitting Bettencourt Meyers against Banier was put on hold by the criminal court in Nanterre in order for supplementary information to be gathered.

Eric Woerth may be questioned today, according to press reports.

L’Oréal, in which Bettencourt holds a 31 percent stake, last week became enmeshed in the sprawling story, which has become daily fodder for the French press. The public prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary inquiry after a L’Oréal shareholder alleging Banier benefited from a contract of convenience with the firm filed a complaint over alleged misuse of corporate funds. After the first complaint, more than 60 other L’Oréal shareholders joined him.

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