The world’s wealthiest woman and heiress to the L'Oreal empire entrusted part of her $22.9 billion fortune to Bernard Madoff, the London Times reported Wednesday.

Liliane Bettencourt, the daughter of L’Oreal founder Eugene Schueller, was the first investor in a fund managed by Access International Advisors, whose co-founder and chief executive, Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, was found dead in his office in New York yesterday in an apparent suicide.

Bettencourt, 86, joins a list of wealthy individuals from all over the world who have been hit by the biggest ever financial fraud. Steven Spielberg, the Hollywood director and Elie Wiesel, the Nobel laureate, have also been affected.

Bettencourt was placed 17 in Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people in 2008, the highest-ranking woman.

Click here for more from the Times Online.