The former head of L’Oréal, Lindsay Owen-Jones, is facing claims of corruption and money laundering in a scandal that dates back to the 1990s. In papers that were filed with the public prosecutor in Paris, Mr Owen-Jones, is accused of misusing company assets and of involvement in an “abuse of trust”.

L’Oréal have dismissed the charges as being “unfounded” and maintain that they relate to an extinct case that was dismissed from the French courts in 2003. Counsel for Janez Mercun, who has issued the proceedings on behalf of his company Temtrade, say that L’Oréal refer to criminal proceedings that do not relate to the civil proceedings that they have issued.

The claim is in relation to the breach of an exclusivity agreement that Mr Mercun, a Slovenian businessman, had with L’Oréal to distribute its cosmetic brands such as Lancome in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine in the 1990s. L’Oréal are accused of creating a “grey market” through a company in Dubai that allowed them to avoid paying substantial French taxes as well as personally benefiting Mr Owen-Jones financially. Goods were allegedly being imported into Moscow through this parallel distribution network and being sold 40 percent cheaper. As a result, Mr Mercun is claiming €34 million in damages.