PARIS — After L’Oréal’s Liliane Bettencourt, another French heiress has emerged as one of the victims of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff.

This story first appeared in the November 17, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Léone-Noëlle Meyer, the former president of Galeries Lafayette department stores, is suing her former bank, HSBC, for allegedly investing part of her assets in Madoff’s investment scheme without her knowledge.

That investment, according to Meyer’s lawyer, Henri Brandford-Griffith, resulted in the loss of 7.5 million euros, or almost $11.2 million at current exchange.

Despite lengthy discussions, Meyer and HSBC failed to find an agreement, prompting the 70-year-old heiress to start a civil suit against the bank, which had served her family for more than 50 years.

“HSBC has already received our summons,” Brandford-Griffith told WWD. HSBC declined to comment.

Meyer served as president of Galeries Lafayette from 1998 until March 2005, when she sold her stake in the company that was founded by her grandfather in 1896 as a boutique selling feathers, ribbons and decorative sewing products.

The effects of the Madoff affair have rippled across Europe, with designer Daniel Hechter, the Recamier family of Louis Vuitton fame and the Principality of Monaco, as well as Bettencourt, said to be among the victims of his Ponzi scheme.

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