Newspaper article International New York Times

French Court Convicts 8 of Exploiting L'Oreal Heir

Newspaper article International New York Times

French Court Convicts 8 of Exploiting L'Oreal Heir

Article excerpt

Francois-Marie Banier was found guilty of "abuse of weakness" and money laundering by a court in Bordeaux, France. Seven others were also found guilty in the case.

A French court has sentenced a celebrity photographer to three years in prison for swindling the L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt out of millions of euros, but it acquitted a former minister who served under former President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The decision by the court in the southwestern city of Bordeaux was the culmination of a sprawling and complex trial that ensnared members of Ms. Bettencourt's staff and entourage, as well as politicians who were accused of scheming to swindle money from the 92-year-old billionaire.

The photographer, Francois-Marie Banier, was found guilty of "abuse of weakness" and money laundering. He was handed a three- year prison sentence, of which six months are suspended; he will also have to pay Ms. Bettencourt 158 million euros, or $173 million, in damages and a EUR 350,000 fine.

Eric Woerth, who was treasurer for Mr. Sarkozy's successful 2007 presidential campaign and then became one of his ministers, was cleared of charges that he exploited Ms. …

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