PARIS — Françoise Bettencourt Meyers has reportedly once again sought legal protection for her mother, Liliane Bettencourt, who is L’Oréal’s largest individual shareholder. On June 30, Bettencourt Meyers also asked the guardianship judge in the Paris suburb of Courbevoie to revoke lawyer Pascal Wilhelm’s mandate to handle Bettencourt’s affairs, according to an AFP report Tuesday citing an anonymous judicial source.
This story first appeared in the July 6, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Bettencourt Meyers is said to believe her 88-year-old mother remains prey to people looking to profit from her alleged ill health, particularly Wilhelm, who has overseen Bettencourt’s affairs since January.
In early June, the Bettencourt family feud heated up again, when Bettencourt Meyers and her sons reportedly contacted the guardianship judge in Courbevoie to grant Bettencourt a measure of legal protection. At the time, Bettencourt Meyers reportedly accused Wilhelm of conflict of interest.
Bettencourt Meyers sought guardianship protection for her mother numerous times during the Bettencourt affair, which began in December 2007, when Bettencourt Meyers brought a lawsuit against photographer François-Marie Banier. She alleged Banier exploited the weakness of Bettencourt, who gave him assets valued at about 1 billion euros, or $1.44 billion at current exchange.
In December 2010, the saga, which had boiled into an affair of state, ended when the mother and daughter — who abandoned all the legal proceedings they had initiated in the family feud — reconciled. However, French judges continue to investigate some criminal allegations that sprang from the Bettencourt scandal. Those cases were transferred to Bordeaux, France, from the Paris suburb of Nanterre last November in the interest of securing a fairer hearing.