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French police raid homes of Bettencourt and friend

Police searched the homes of France's richest woman and a close friend on Monday looking for evidence in a scandal that has rocked President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative party, a police source said.

world Updated: Jul 12, 2010 23:20 IST

Police searched the homes of France's richest woman and a close friend on Monday looking for evidence in a scandal that has rocked President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative party, a police source said.

The raids on the homes of L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and society photographer Francois-Marie Banier, to whom she is alleged to have given gifts worth 1 billion euros, took place hours before Sarkozy was due to be interviewed on television about the affair.

A former bookkeeper for Bettencourt has alleged that the billionairess and her late husband made large illegal cash donations to conservative politicians, including for Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign.