Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, attends a news conference to present the 2022 annual results of LVMH in Paris, France, January 26, 2023.
Gonzalo Fuentes | Reuters
The Paris public prosecutor’s office is investigating LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault over financial transactions involving Russian oligarch Nikolai Sarkisov.
French newspaper Le Monde reported Thursday, citing France’s Tracfin financial intelligence unit, that Sarkisov had bought real estate at an Alpine resort with the help of a loan from Arnault.
The Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed Friday that a preliminary investigation had been underway since 2022, and that a Tracfin report “drawing the attention of the prosecutor’s office to operations concerning Mr. Bernard Arnault and Mr. Sarkisov, likely to characterize acts of money laundering, has been attached to this procedure. The prosecutor’s offices declined to comment on the ongoing investigations. The raid was part of a tax fraud probe involving activities in Belgium. The raid related to a tax fraud probe linked to activities in Belgium.
Nikolai Sarkisov is a senior figure at his brother Sergey’s Russian insurance company, RESO-Garantia.
RESO-Garantia Deputy CEO Igor Ivanov told CNBC on Friday that neither the company, nor Nikolai Sarkisov personally had been involved in the transaction, and that Sarkisov had never met Arnault.
“The transaction was managed by a small investment unit which invests professionally in European real estate. The transaction was managed by a small investment unit that invests professionally in European real estate. This was just a normal real estate transaction. “
He added that neither the company nor Sarkisov had received any request for documents from French authorities.
LVMH this weekend sent CNBC a comment from Jacqueline Laffont, Arnault’s lawyer, who said the allegations of money laundering were “as absurd as they are unfounded. “
The operation to expand the White Horse Hotel at Courchevel was well-known and conducted in accordance with laws and with council support. According to the statement, “the investigation, which is reportedly in progress, won’t fail to acknowledge this,” she stated.
Who can imagine that Bernard Arnault who has spent the last 40 years building France’s and Europe’s leading company, would engage in money-laundering to expand an hotel? The absurdity of these accusations is not a secret to anyone. “