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Investigation begins into possible exploitation of family business heiress

Prosecutors in France have launched an investigation to find out whether anyone exploited L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, following the release of the octogenarian’s medical results.

Prosecutors in France have launched an investigation to find out whether anyone exploited L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, following the release of the octogenarian’s medical results.

Eighty-eight-year-old Bettencourt, who along with her daughter collectively owns 31% of cosmetics giant L’Oreal, recently underwent a medical examination to determine her mental status.

After assessing the results, prosecutors have decided to investigate whether anyone exploited her mental and physical weaknesses, reported the Wall Street Journal. But who the enquiry will target wasn't revealed.

When contacted, a spokesman for L’Oreal refused to comment and said it was a “personal matter”.

The decision follows a complaint filed by Bettencourt’s daughter, Francois-Bettencourt Meyers, in June, which questioned her mother’s mental state and accused Bettencourt’s legal trustee of allegedly exploiting her fortunes, worth an estimated €17 billion.

It wasn’t the first time that the mother-daughter team had been up against each other. The family feud first began in 2009 when Bettencourt-Meyers accused her mother’s friend, a photographer, of manipulating the heiress into parting with nearly €1 billion in gifts.

Although the family reconciled in December last year, it was short-lived with the Bettencourts going to court six months later.

Both women sit on the board of the Clichy, France-based family business L’Oreal, founded by Bettencourt’s father in 1909. The cosmetics group had 2010 revenues of €19.5 billion.

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