French prosecutors probe billionaire's dealings with Russian billionaire

French prosecutors probe billionaire's dealings with Russian billionaire

The Paris public prosecutor's office said Friday that it is investigating billionaire LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault's dealings with Russian businessman Nikolai Sarkisov.

Le Monde told a French daily newspaper that officials are examining specific real estate deals between the two individuals in the ski resort of Courchevel.

Prosecutors said the investigation into the LVMH chief began last year.

In 2018, Le Monde said, Sarkisov acquired multiple properties in Courchevel using intermediary companies. In those transactions, however, the end-buyer turned out to be Arnault, and he is now claimed to have paid Sarkisov around 20 million to own the assets.

In turn, Sarkisov allegedly turned a €2 million profit on the deals.

Investigators told Le Monde that the transactions looked like they masked the origin of the funds, and who was the ultimate buyer. Le Monde cites people familiar with Arnault as saying the deals were legal.

Arnault is the world's biggest luxury goods company and is the second-richest person in the world, behind Elon Musk. With a net worth of around $212 billion, he is a key player in the industry, securing a wide range of top brands across fashion, alcohol, and jewelry. He has brought in his five adult children, and it's become a family-run empire atop a huge fortune.

LVMH shares were up 1.83% in Paris on Friday, closing at €718.90.