PARIS — Another twist has woven itself into the Bettencourt affair.

This story first appeared in the June 17, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

A preliminary inquiry for “infringement of privacy” was opened early this week in France after police received what are reported to be 21 hours of secretly recorded discussions — spanning one year — between Lilianne Bettencourt, the 87-year-old daughter of L’Oréal’s founder, and her advisers. According to press reports circulating here, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, Bettencourt’s daughter, was given the clandestine recordings made by one of her mother’s former employees. Bettencourt Meyers then turned the recordings over to the police.

French daily online news publication Médiapart wrote the police received the recordings on June 10 that are said to cover wide-ranging subjects, including the existence of two Swiss bank accounts owned by Bettencourt containing tens of millions of euros. Bettencourt Meyers’ lawyer, Olivier Metzner, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

As reported, Bettencourt Meyers brought a lawsuit against the photographer François-Marie Banier in December 2007, alleging Banier’s “exploitation of weakness” of Bettencourt, who gave him assets valued at almost 1 billion euros, or $1.23 billion. Bettencourt, meanwhile, argues she is sound and acting on her own free will. A court in Nanterre will hold a hearing in the case pitting Bettencourt Meyers against Banier on July 1, 2, 5 and 6.

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