Dinners, cash and Sarkozy: what Bettencourt's accountant told Mediapart

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Mme. Woerth’'s ‘'13,000 euros per month and 50,000-euro annual bonus’'

Eric Woerth's wife Florence worked for Clymene, the company managing Liliane Bettencourt’s wealth, from the end of 2007, and was directly under the orders of Patrice de Maistre. Was Florence Woerth aware, through her position at Clymene, of the tax evasion that was revealed in the conversations secretly recorded by the butler?

Claire Thibout said she was not certain as to whether Florence Woerth did know about the tax-dodging accounts. “"Florence Woerth knew about the investments, but not necessarily about the tax frauds,"” Thibout said. “"And for good reason. She was not often there. She often took long weekends, regularly travelling to Switzerland where she said she had property. In fact, it seemed obvious that she was only given a job there because her husband was budget minister. What’'s more, Patrice de Maistre didn'’t hide the fact, but he quickly regretted his choice, he wasn’'t pleased with her.”"

Florence Woerth “had a "good" salary,” said Thibout: “"About 13,000 euros per month plus an end-of-year bonus of around 50,000 euros,”" she said.

Claire Thibout also confirmed that Liliane Bettencourt benefited in 2008 from a 30 million-euro tax rebate from the French state, under the terms of what is known as the bouclier fiscal, or tax shield. This fixes individual taxation at a maximum of 50% of yearly income.

Thibout also told Mediapart that Liliane Bettencourt “never had to submit to the slightest tax inspection, at least since 1995.”

“"I never saw a tax inspector, I can certify that,” she said. “One could say that we were at ease regarding the tax authorities. I remember even that, one day in 2008, I telephoned, in a panic, the tax official who was responsible for Mme. Bettencourt. When I took sick leave I had forgotten to send the income tax return documents, I only sent the ISF [the French ‘solidarity tax on wealth’, a partial taxation]. It was a big blunder. I was worried that they would penalise us with a heavy fine. In all logic, we should have been hit with a 10% surcharge, which would have been about four million euros. But the person I spoke to laughed, told me not to worry, that Liliane would suffer no penalty, which was the case.”"

Thibout parted company with her employers on bad terms. They were unhappy with her statement to police who were investigating the case brought by Liliane Bettencourt'’s daughter Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers against socialite François-Marie Banier for “abuse of a state of weakness”. The Bettencourt household staff members were quizzed during the investigation into the circumstances in which Banier received some one billion euros in gifts from Liliane. Among others also blamed for giving unfavourable statements against Banier was the butler, who subsequently decided to record on tape the extraordinary behaviour of Liliane Bettencourt’'s close entourage.

But despite the conditions in which she lost her job, Claire Thibout has no ill feeling towards Liliane Bettencourt. She said she was “"shocked at how she [Liliane Bettencourt] has fallen prey to people who only think about how to strip her of what she possesses."”

Concerning the controversy surrounding the Seychelles island of d’'Arros, Thibout insisted that "“it is indeed François-Marie Banier who is, via a foundation, the beneficiary in title.”"

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