LVMH CEO, Sarkisov, under investigation over financial transactions

LVMH CEO, Sarkisov, under investigation over financial transactions

Bernard Arnault, the world's second richest man and CEO of LVMH, one of Europe's most valuable companies, is being investigated over financial transactions linked to Russian oligarch Nikolai Sarkisov.

An investigation into the matter was opened in 2022, the prosecutors' office said. In a French news outlet last week, Le Monde reported that authorities were investigating Sarkisov's purchase of a ski resort in the French Alps using a loan from Arnault. The report listed Tracfin, an anti-money laundering unit within the French economy ministry, as having flagged the transaction as a suspicious financial transaction.

The investigation does not imply responsibility for the parties involved, and no one has been charged yet.

Le Monde cited an unidentified associate of Arnault who said the deal was carried out within France's legal limits.

With his brother, Sarkisov, Sarkisov owns the Russian insurance company RESO-Garantia. The firm, based in Moscow, offers a wide range of insurance coverage for individuals and legal entities.

RESO-Garantia's spokeswoman told the Times: Sarkisov had neither met nor was involved in the transaction under investigation.

RESO-Garantia spokeswoman Igor Ivanov said that some of those properties were based in Courchevel, where Sarkisov's ski resort is located.

RESO-Garantia has also been under investigation by French authorities for a different case in which former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was hired as an advisor by the group for a roughly $3 million contract.

The Prosecutor's office could not be reached for comment on the ongoing investigation. Tracfin did not immediately return my request for comment.

LVMH, a French billionaire company, owns luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior and is among Europe's biggest companies by market capitalization. According to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, Arnault's net worth is $167 billion. In the first half of 2023, the company made €42.2 billion in revenue, up 15% from the same period last year. In some cases, it has become one of the world's most prominent luxury companies, growing rapidly to become a top-notch luxury company.

Arnault lost another case earlier this year to French tax investigators regarding a raid of LVMH's headquarters in Belgium in 2019. The company said it was likely that any tax discrepancies were likely a 'procedural issue' under European law and its activities were known to French authorities.