On Friday, September 7, French tax lawyer Fabrice Goguel was charged with swindling France’s wealthiest woman, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, 89. Goguel is accused of abusing Bettencourt’s frailty and confidence by getting her to give him an island in the Seychelles which was part of her property portfolio.
D’Arros Island, the property in question, was purchased with other
small islets in 1998 for $18 million. Goguel allegedly convinced Bettencourt to hand the island over to his Liechenstein-based Foundation for Ecological Balance and to furthermore give the foundation an extra $25 million.
A stipulation of Bettencourt’s was that if Goguel’s foundation could not deliver in its mission, it was to make specific “donations” to various friends including Jean-Marie Banier, the French celebrity photographer who has also allegedly been exploiting Bettencourt.
According to family and experts, Bettencourt started to suffer a decline in her mental faculties in 2006 and was placed under guardianship in 2011 after a long-lasting legal battle over her €16 billion fortune. Estranged daughter Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers along with other close relatives had long accused Bettencourt’s advisors and “friends” of taking advantage of the heiress’s worsening health.
Speaking on behalf of his client, Goguel’s lawyer Jean Gonthier told the AFP that his client had done absolutely nothing wrong and had committed no ethical, legal or moral errors.
“He scrupulously executed the missions that Mrs Bettencourt charged him with,” he said.