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The Bettencourt Affair Heats Up Again

Ten people are reportedly to be tried in the Bettencourt affair by a Bordeaux, France-based court starting Jan. 26, 2015.

BETTENCOURT REDUX: Ten people are reportedly to be tried in the Bettencourt affair by a Bordeaux, France-based court starting Jan. 26, 2015. They are accused with having abused the weakness of Liliane Bettencourt, the 91-year-old L’Oréal heiress, in a case that began in 2007.

Among those to be judged in the trial expected to last between four and five weeks in the criminal court are Eric Woerth, France’s former budget minister; Patrice de Maistre, a past financial advisor to Bettencourt; Pascal Wilhelm, who had once overseen Bettencourt’s affairs, and photographer François-Marie Banier.

France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s criminal investigation in the Bettencourt affair was dismissed in October.

The Bettencourt saga began in December 2007, when Bettencourt’s daughter Françoise Bettencourt Meyers brought a lawsuit against Banier. She alleged he exploited the weakness of her mother, who gave him assets valued at about 1 billion euros, or $1.38 billion at current exchange.

The affair has subsequently taken numerous twists and turns, even becoming an affair of state. Some parts of it are still winding their way through France’s judicial system.

Bettencourt in October 2011 was put under legal guardianship of her grandson Jean-Victor Meyers. He replaced her on L’Oréal’s board in April 2012.

The Bettencourt Meyers family — the French beauty giant’s largest individual shareholder — holds a 33.31 percent stake in the company.