Friday, July 02, 2010

Ahhh, ze French

French government adopts austerity measures.
There will be no state garden parties to mark Bastille Day or hunts at Chateau de Chambord, the Loire castle built as a hunting lodge for French kings.

Christian Blanc, minister for development of the Paris region, will repay the government $15,000 he charged the government for Cuban cigars.

Junior minister, Alain Joyandet, was told not to do it again after he spent $142,000 to fly to Martinique for a conference on Haitian reconstruction in a chartered jet.

Rama Yade, a junior minister for sport, had to move into a Johannesburg guesthouse for the World Cup after an uproar about her hotel suite.

Meanwhile, a big stink is being raised in a court case centered on the L'Oreal heiress:
L'Oreal trial grips France as lawyers row and defendant sketches courtroom
Photographer and artist François-Marie Banier appeared in court charged with "abuse of weakness" of L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.

The heiress's estranged daughter Françoise Meyers-Bettencourt, 57, has brought the case.

Arguments have been made to suppress secret tapes, recorded by the butler, in typical "the butler did it drama". They revealed Bettencourt had been hiding millions in secret Swiss bank accounts to avoid taxes, had employed the wife of a former budget minister and had given her young protégé a Seychelles island.

They are also, it is alleged, "explosive evidence" suggesting Bettencourt is forgetful and confused and may not be in a fit state to do what she wants with her money, as she has insisted.

Distinguished lawyer George Kiejman, a holder of the Legion d'honneur and representing Bettencourt, wanted the case thrown out altogether insisting a fair trial was impossible. "This is a conspiracy to steal the dignity of an 87-year-old woman who I am here to defend," he said.

"This is a family story; the daughter is trying to use this court to settle a psychological conflict with her mother; a 57-year-old little girl complaining 'my mummy doesn't love me. She loves him more than me'. This case should never have come to this court."

Kiejman added: "That Madame Bettencourt should have the misfortune of finding the brilliant Mr Banier more amusing than her own daughter – and between you and me that's no surprise – is not for this court to judge."

Equally distinguished lawyer Olivier Metzner, representing the daughter, Meyers-Bettencourt, said "Money doesn't interest my client. She is concerned for the life of her mother who is in a precarious situation, and I understand her.

"She has told me that she has an immense love for her mother."

Metzner left his bench and looked across the court into Banier's eyes. "Is it not nauseating that a man should exploit a woman, profit from a woman?"

Guambat took a few liberties with re-telling the story as reported in the article cited. Maybe you'd better go directly to the source.

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