L’Oreal heiress questioned

POLICE questioned France’s richest woman yesterday about suspected tax evasion and money laundering, her lawyer said, in a scandal that has shaken the government.

L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, 87, was expected to be asked to explain two undeclared Swiss bank accounts and an island in the Seychelles which were mentioned on secret recordings made by a former butler and published in the French press.

She may also be quizzed about allegations by a former bookkeeper that Bettencourt and her late husband made big illegal cash donations to conservative politicians, including Labour Minister Eric Woerth for President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign.

Bettencourt was questioned “as a witness” at her villa, lawyer Georges Kiejman said.

Woerth has denied receiving any illegal money and rejected accusations of a conflict of interest over his wife’s job with Bettencourt’s wealth manager while he was budget minister in charge of tax affairs.

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