By  on August 18, 2010

VERSAILLES, France — The appellate court here will hand down a decision on Sept. 14 regarding an appeal filed by Liliane Bettencourt’s lawyer, Georges Kiejman.

His appeal, which was hotly discussed in the court for approximately two-and-a-half hours on Tuesday afternoon, opposes a demand made on July 1 by the criminal court of Nanterre, France, that supplementary information be gathered before a trial date is set for the case pitting Bettencourt’s daughter, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, against photographer François-Marie Banier.

As reported, the hearing had originally been slated to start July 1 and run through July 6. But a few weeks earlier, French police received more than 20 hours of secretly recorded discussions from May 2009 to May 2010 between Bettencourt, the 87-year-old daughter of L’Oréal’s founder, and her advisers, among others. Bettencourt Meyers, who was given the clandestine recordings made by her mother’s former butler and that are said to cover subjects such as tax evasion and havens, then turned them over to authorities.

Bettencourt Meyers had brought the lawsuit against Banier in December 2007. She alleges Banier’s “exploitation of weakness” of Bettencourt, who gave him assets valued at about 1 billion euros, or $1.29 billion at current exchange. For her part, Bettencourt argues she is sound and acting on her own free will.

What’s now known widely as the Bettencourt affair has taken countless twists and turns. In July, for instance, French President Nicolas Sarkozy on national television denied claims that he may have received envelopes of cash containing illegal campaign donations from Bettencourt.

Meanwhile, Bettencourt Meyers’ home was searched as part of an investigation into infringement of privacy. And France’s labor minister, Eric Woerth, was queried about alleged illegal political donations and how his wife, Florence Woerth, came to oversee part of Bettencourt’s finances.

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