PARIS — Seven people found guilty of having abused the mental frailty of L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt have appealed in the criminal court of Bordeaux, France.
Only Stéphane Courbit, who was fined 250,000 euros, or $281,210 at current exchange, refrained from filing an appeal.
As reported, the steepest sentence handed down in late May in the case was to François-Marie Banier, the photographer who had been given gifts by Bettencourt worth hundreds of millions of euros. On May 28, he was sentenced to three years in jail, with six months suspended; fined 350,000 euros, or $393,695, and ordered to reimburse 158 million euros, or $177.7 million, to Bettencourt.
“Of course I have appealed. There can be no worse sentence than this.…I obviously don’t have these 158 million [euros]. The Meyers want to see me ruined. But you know, fundamentally, I don’t care. It’s so vile of them,” he said in an interview in the French weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, dated May 31, referring to the family of Bettencourt’s daughter.
Banier reiterated that although he accepted extravagant gifts from Bettencourt, she gave them freely and was not mentally diminished at any point.
Others found guilty in the trial that opened in late January included Patrice de Maistre, a past financial adviser to the heiress, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison, of which one year is to be suspended. He was given a 250,000-euro fine, as well, plus 12 million euros, or $13.5 million, to be paid in damages to Bettencourt.
The saga dates back to December 2007, when the heiress’ daughter Françoise Bettencourt Meyers brought a lawsuit against Banier. She alleged he exploited the weakness of her mother, who gave him assets valued at around 1 billion euros, or $1.13 billion.
Other parts of the lawsuit keep winding through the French judicial system. On Monday, for instance, a two-day hearing commenced in Bordeaux involving judge Isabelle Prévost-Desprez, who allegedly leaked information about the Bettencourt case to the press. Her verdict is due to be revealed on July 2.