Billionaire Bernard Arnault Faces Money Laundering Probe in Luxury Real Estate Deal

French authorities have initiated a money laundering investigation into billionaire Bernard Arnault, the major shareholder of luxury goods group LVMH, along with Russian businessman Nikolai Sarkisov. This was disclosed by the Paris public prosecutor’s office on Friday.

Recent reports from The World newspaper disclosed that one of Arnault’s companies had extended a loan to Sarkisov for a property acquisition. The investigation centers around the purchase of more than a dozen apartments in the French ski resort of Courchevel. Notably, Courchevel is where LVMH, under the leadership of Arnault, and associated holding structures own several extensive properties.

LVMH’s spokesperson assured The World that the real estate transactions in Courchevel were conducted “in strict compliance with the law.” Those close to Sarkisov played down the profit, claiming it was “only a few hundred thousand euros.” However, reports suggest that Sarkisov might have gained a profit of two million euros, with the specifics of what was exchanged remaining unclear.

LVMH, known for owning luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moët & Chandon, and Hennessy, is also involved with German health shoe specialist Birkenstock, which is preparing for a public listing in the USA.

Beyond the iconic brands, including Dior, Bulgari, Guerlain, and Tiffany & Co., the LVMH Group encompasses over 70 other luxury brands spanning various sectors. This investigation adds scrutiny to Arnault, a figure synonymous with the high-end luxury market, and raises questions about the financial dealings surrounding the prestigious Courchevel properties.

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