Police questions French labour minister over scandal

French police began to question Labour Minister Eric Woerth on Thursday over alleged tax evasion by L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

Police questions French labour minister over scandal

French polce began to question Labour Minister Eric Woerth on Thursday as a witness in an investigation into alleged tax evasion by L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, his lawyer said.

Woerth, a close ally of President Nicholas Sarkozy responsible for steering through a landmark pension reform this year, has come under pressure to resign in recent months after it emerged his wife worked for Bettencourt's wealth manager.

"The hearing has begun, it's taking place at the (labour) ministry," said a spokesman for prosecutor Philippe Courroye.

Woerth, a close ally of Sarkozy responsible for steering through a landmark pension reform this year, has come under pressure to resign in recent months after it emerged his wife worked for Bettencourt's wealth manager.

The heiress' former bookkeeper has also said Woerth received illegal political donations on behalf of the ruling UMP party. He has denied any wrongdoing.

In a further twist, Bettencourt's wealth manager, Patrice de Maistre has had the file on his prestigious Legion d'Honneur title seized by the Nanterre prosecutor's office.

Maistre received the award in early 2008 from Woerth, two months after Florence Woerth was recruited to work at the firm Clymene, which manages Bettencourt's vast fortune, on an annual salary of 200,000 euros ($260,300).

Florence Woerth and Maistre have already been questioned by police. Florence Woerth has denied any quid pro quo arrangement but has said it was Maistre who offered her the job, only a few weeks after her husband began working at the budget ministry.

Police also searched the home of the heiress' daughter, Francoise Meyers-Bettencourt, on Wednesday as part of an inquiry into violation of privacy after tapes of Bettencourt's conversations at home with her accountants were made by the butler in secret

($1=.7684 Euro)

Reuters


Related news reports:

French police questions L'Oreal heiress over scandal

Police questions French minister's wife in tax scandal

French Labor Minister says not to resign over scandal

French minister in probe to quit as party treasurer

France's Sarkozy denies cash scandal

Last Mod: 29 Temmuz 2010, 12:05
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