Keyword: François-Marie Banier

Bettencourt affair: ex-minister cleared but jail for society photographer and wealth manager

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Former government minister and the treasurer of Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign, Éric Woerth, has been cleared in two separate trials resulting from the extraordinary saga of the Bettencourt affair. But photographer François-Marie Banier has been sentenced to prison for his role in abusing the frailty of France's richest woman, billionaire L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, from whom he received up to 414 million euros. Also jailed for abusing Bettencourt's frailty was her former wealth manager Patrice de Maistre. The jail sentences are the climax of a long-running saga that has gripped France, involving secret tapes made by Bettencourt's butler, claims that a circle of advisors and hangers-on preyed off the ageing billionaires, and amid allegations of covert political funding of the right-wing UMP party. At one point former president Nicolas Sarkozy had himself been placed under formal investigation over the affair, though the case against him was later dropped. Woerth, meanwhile, was acquitted both of 'receiving' illicit cash for party funding via Maistre from Liliane Bettencourt – even though judges said there was a “strong suspicion” that some money had been handed over - and, in a separate trial, of 'influence peddling'. The judges' decision to acquit the former minister, while eight other defendants were convicted, means that in effect they have 'de-politicised' the affair. Michel Deléan reports.

Former French minister acquitted in Sarkozy-linked corruption case

Ex-budget minister Eric Woerth found not guilty of exploiting L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt but two of her associates were jailed.

Bettencourt trial: the humiliation, fear and anger of the accused

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Defendant François-Marie Banier at court for the Bettencourt trial. © Reuters Defendant François-Marie Banier at court for the Bettencourt trial. © Reuters

After predictable procedural wrangles – plus some unforeseen delays – the long-awaited Bettencourt trial got under way in Bordeaux last week. Those on trial, who include a former minister in Nicolas Sarkozy's government, stand accused of either directly preying on the frailty of L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt or of profiting from it. Eight of the accused gave evidence during the week, all struggling to hide their dismay at being in the dock. The first was writer and photographer François-Marie Banier, a close confidant of Bettencourt from whom he received some 414 million euros, and who told the court he understands nothing about the world of money and business. “I'm not a spoilt child or a dandy,” he insisted. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan was in court to witness the start of this extraordinary trial.

Ten people stand trial in France over Bettencourt affair

The defendants, who face charges relating to exploitation of ageing L'Oréal heiress, include a former minister who is close to Nicolas Sarkozy.

The tentacular Bettencourt affair, from high-society feud to affair of state

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Liliane Bettencourt Liliane Bettencourt

The Bettencourt affair has reached an unprecedented scope among the many scandals that have rocked France in recent decades. As a judicial ruling ordering the censorship of Mediapart’s reporting of the scandal kicks in this Monday evening, Michel Deléan dresses a summary of the  judicial investigations into the affair which, over the past three years, have exposed a bed of political corruption and influence peddling, a record back payment in taxes on assets secretly stashed abroad, not to mention the outrageous antics of a high-society cabal and the sordid exploitation of one of Europe’s wealthiest individuals.

L'Oréal scandal: it's far from over yet

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Liliane Bettencourt. © France 3 Liliane Bettencourt. © France 3
The announcement Monday of a reconciliation between L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and her daughter Françoise has apparently put an end to the public side of an ugly family dispute. But the political implications of the scandal continue, with ongoing investigations into the alleged illegal funding of President Nicolas Sarkozy's election campaign, and into suspected influence peddling by his former budget and labour minister Eric Woerth. If only, that is, the newly-appointed magistrates could get their hands on the case files.

The eerie plot penned by L'Oréal family scandal dandy in 1971

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Socialite François-Marie Banier, accused of being a bullying fortune hunter by the daughter of L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, published a novel (left) in his youth with a plot that eerily echoes the current scandal surrounding him and the 88 year-old matriarch from whom he has received almost one billion euros. In Banier's book, the hero worms his way into the affections of a wealthy family uncannily similar to the Bettencourts, earning him, among other things, the lifelong enmity of their daughter.