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L'Oréal heiress Bettencourt rumoured to owe millions in tax

media Bettencourt reported to own millions in tax AFP / Patrick Kovarik

France’s richest woman and heiress to the L'Oréal fortune, Liliane Bettencourt, owes around 30 million euros to the French tax authorities, according to the left-leaning weekly magazine Marianne.

The tax documents, which the magazine claimed it had access to, revealed that Bettencourt owes some 11.3 million euros in income tax from 2006-2007, as well as 17.6 million in French wealth tax from 2004-2007. A total of nearly 30 million euros.

Dossier - The Bettencourt scandal

The 88 year-old heiress was at the heart of a sprawling political tax affair in the summer of 2010 which began when her only daughter Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers alleged that celebrity photographer François-Marie Banier was manipulating her mother for financial gain.

This provoked an investigation by the financial investigative arm of France’s national police.

By 2009, mother and daughter appeared to no longer be on speaking terms.

The investigation spilled over into the political arena when President Nicolas Sarkozy advised his former Minister, Eric Woerth, to resign over suspicion of illegal political contributions and tax evasions.

The trial last year was postponed when Liliane Bettencourt’s butler came forward with 21 hours of taped conversations between her and her advisors. It revealed evidence of her political contacts and tax evasions, including secret Swiss bank accounts and a tax haven on the Island Arros in the Seychelles.

She promised in June 2010 to rectify the situation.

“The billionaire substantially undervalued all of her properties to play down the French wealth tax”, says Marianne, citing a “tax scandal.”

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