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Photographer in L’Oreal heiress dispute charged

- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2011

PARIS (AP) - Initial charges have been filed against a photographer accused of swindling France's wealthiest woman, L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, out of about 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion).

The Bordeaux prosecutor's office says Francois-Marie Banier and his partner were handed the charges Wednesday but allowed to go home after posting bail of an undisclosed amount.

Banier faces preliminary charges, including breach of trust and aggravated fraud, stemming from accusations by Bettencourt's daughter.

She alleges Banier took advantage of her elderly mother's mental frailty and trust to bilk her out of 1 billion euros in cash, artworks and other gifts.

Banier, a longtime friend of Bettencourt's, has insisted he did not take advantage of her, but the dispute prompted a string of legal cases.

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