The mist starts clearing in Bettencourt abuse trial


The trial of ten men accused of profiting from the dementia-suffering multi-billionaire Liliane Bettencourt enters its final stages on Monday, after three weeks of hearings. The court in Bordeaux has heard the extraordinary detail of how a disparate group of defendants, including high-society dandies, wealth managers, lawyers, solicitors and a former minister, gravitated around the fortune of the L’Oréal cosmetic company heiress, as first revealed by Mediapart in 2010. This week the court in Bordeaux will proceed with the last cross-examinations, before hearing the final arguments of the defence and prosecution. Mediapart’s legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan, present in court since the start of the case, reports on the outcome so far.

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After three weeks of lengthy hearings, and with another two weeks of the court case still to run, it has become clear that the evidence and arguments are stacking up against François-Marie Banier, the celebrity photographer, writer and high-society dandy, whose unusual relationship with L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, now aged 92, lit the fuse of what has become dubbed ‘the Bettencourt affair’. Just as they are also for Patrice de Maistre, Bettencourt’s former wealth manager.