Authorities are investigating LVMH billionaire Bernard Arnault in potential money laundering probe

Man standing in a stage talking through a podium microphone.
  • French authorities are looking into billionaire Bernard Arnault's dealings with a Russian businessman.

  • Nikolai Sarkisov bought properties in 2018 through intermediary companies, but the buyer was Arnault, reports said.

  • Officials alleged that Arnault paid Sarkisov about €20 million to own the assets.

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

French daily newspaper Le Monde reported that officials are looking specifically into real estate transactions between the two individuals in the ski resort of Courchevel.

Prosecutors said the investigation into the LVMH chief started last year, per Bloomberg.

In 2018, Le Monde said, Sarkisov purchased multiple properties in Courchevel using intermediary companies. Yet the end-buyer in those transactions turned out to be Arnault — and he is alleged to have paid Sarkisov roughly €20 million to own the assets.

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

Investigators told Le Monde that the transactions look like they masked the origin of the funds, and who the ultimate buyer actually was. Le Monde's report cited people familiar with Arnault as saying the deals were legal.

Arnault runs the world's largest luxury goods company and is the second-richest person in the world after Elon Musk. He has a net worth of about $212 billion, and his expansive conglomerate controls top brands across fashion, alcohol, and jewelry. He has brought his five adult children into his business, and it's become a family-run empire atop a massive fortune.

Shares of LVMH rose 1.83% in Paris on Friday, closing at  €718.90.

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