Huffpost Business

Liliane Bettencourt, World's Wealthiest Woman, Among Madoff's Victims

Posted: Updated:

The epic Madoff fraud saga appears to have added another high profile name to its list of victims. Both Bloomberg and the Times of London are reporting that Liliane Bettencourt, the world's wealthiest woman, had entrusted part of her fortune to Madoff by way of Thierry de la Villehuchet, a Madoff Investor who, it was reported Tuesday, appears to have committed suicide after a $1.4 Billion loss.

More details from Bloomberg:

The 86-year-old daughter of L'Oreal SA founder Eugene Schueller was the first investor in a fund managed by Access International Advisors, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because her investment isn't public.The body of Access co-founder Thierry Magon de La Villehuchet, 65, was found in his Madison Avenue office yesterday. Police said he probably killed himself.[...]

Bettencourt, the only child of Schueller, holds a 30 percent stake in Paris-based L'Oreal, the world's largest cosmetics maker, according to Bloomberg data. She inherited L'Oreal in 1957 when her father died and holds a seat on its board.

Bettencourt rarely speaks to the media. She gave her first interview in 20 years this month to the weekly Figaro Magazine.

Bettencourt is number 17 on the 2008 Forbes list of the world's richest people, with an estimated wealth of 22.9 billion.

In other Madoff news, AFP reports that doubts are growing over whether Madoff acted alone:

In a criminal complaint filed against the 70-year-old Madoff, prosecutors said Madoff stated "in substance, that he had personally traded and lost money for institutional clients and that it was all his fault."

But many members of the financial community are skeptical that Madoff could have single-handedly maintained accounts for the fictitious investment scheme involving tens of billions of dollars and a multitude of clients.

Read more about Thierry de la Villehuchet.