Friends of Petrus heiress accused of 'abuse'
- Tuesday 12 April 2005
In the long-running investigation into the potential misppropriation of funds from the sale of Chateau Petrus, companions of Mme Lily Lacoste, the 98-year-old former majority shareholder of the ultra-iconic Pomerol property, are under investigation for ‘abuse of frailty’ – just one step away from formal charges.
The investigation is centred on the actions of 86-year-old Andre Bordes, one of Lacoste’s oldest friends and advisers, together with two of her former retainers.
It is claimed funds from the sale of Lacoste’s assets – including Petrus and Lafleur-Petrus amongst a clutch of blue-chip properties – were fraudulently used to finance life-assurance policies which would benefit Lacoste’s advisers on her death.
As well as this, Lacoste’s cousin Guy Petrus-Lignac asserts the accused subjected the elderly lady to poor living conditions. It is also claimed bottles of fine old vintages from her cellar were being drunk and re-filled with cheap vin ordinaire.
The affairs of Lacoste’s £41m (€60m) estate were first brought to public attention three years ago when she reported the disappearance of hundreds of bottles of Petrus from her private cellar.
Investigators discovered that many of her recent financial transactions appeared to have been influenced by external factors, including the donation of Ch Latour-a-Pomerol to a charity with close links to Bordes. The director of the charity is also under investigation.
The investigating team face difficulties discovering which deals Lacoste signed knowingly and which not. The issue is compounded by her mental frailty – a psychiatric report found her unable to distinguish between Euros and Francs.
Yet Lacoste claims complete lucidity, claiming simply she preferred to listen to music rather than pay attention to her finances.
Asked about Bordes, Lacoste replied that she had trusted him. She said, ‘He is extremely rich too, and I did not think he could possibly be after my money.’