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Bettencourt faces further allegations

L'Oreal heiress and France's richest woman Liliane Bettencourt (pictured) is accused of paying president Sarkozy's government €150,000 during the 2007 elections.

The allegations come from Bettencourt's former accountant Claire Thibout in an interview with French news website Mediapart.

The interview claims that Bettencourt's financial advisor Patrice de Maistre gave French Labour Minister Eric Woerth a €150,000 donation. The accusation is severe as an individual political donation cannot exceed €7,500 a year under French law.

The case is further complicated by the minister's wife's position as financial advisor to the billionaire. The interview claims Bettencourt's tax affairs avoided inspection due to Mrs Woerth's involvement in managing Bettencourt's wealth.

The new revelations follow the recent scandal involving Bettencourt's holdings in Switzerland and the Seychelles. Bettencourt was recently caught on tape referring to undisclosed holdings with an advisor. (Continue reading here).

Bettencourt's daughter, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, is taking her mother to trial in a bid to question her mental health. Bettencourt-Meyers claims her mother was manipulated into handing over €950 million in the form of gifts, cheques and life insurance policies since 1996 to close confident, Francois-Marie Banier. (Continue reading here).

Bettencourt holds a 30% stake in the company her father founded in 1909. L'Oreal recorded 2008 revenues of €17 billion and Bettencourt herself is worth an estimated €20 billion, making her the 17th richest person in the world.

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