Ceasefire over in Bettencourt family battle

By Rashmi Kumar

Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, daughter of L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, has filed another legal challenge questioning her mother’s mental state, only six months after dropping a previous challenge.

According to reports, Bettencourt-Meyers has accused her mother’s lawyer, Pascal Wilhelm, of allegedly taking advantage of the 88-year-old heiress after Bettencourt invested €170 million in a company belonging to one of her lawyer’s clients.

When contacted, a L’Oreal spokeswoman refused to comment and said that it was an entirely “family affair”.

First made public on 8 June by French newspaper Le Monde, reports quote Bettencourt-Meyers’ lawyers as saying that her mother, who owns 31% of cosmetics giant L’Oreal, has become the victim of an “abuse of influence.”

In January, the octogenarian named Wilhelm to manage her fortune, but he also remained her lawyer. According to Bettencourt-Meyers this is a conflict of interest.

The new legal filing comes barely six months after mother and daughter ended years of estrangement following a similar accusation. In 2009 Bettencourt-Meyers accused her mother’s friend, photographer Francois-Marie Banier, of manipulating the heiress into parting with nearly €1 billion worth of gifts (Continue reading here)

The two reconciled in December last year, following which Bettencourt-Meyers dropped all court charges against her mother. Both women serve on L’Oreal board – the company founded by Bettencourt’s father in 1909.

Bettencourt is worth an estimated €20 billion and is the 17th richest person in the world, according to Forbes. The Clichy, France-based group had 2010 revenues of €19.5 billion.

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