The Paris public prosecutor's office has confirmed that it is currently conducting an investigation into financial transactions involving Bernard Arnault, the owner of luxury conglomerate LVMH, and Russian businessman Nikolai Sarkisov. This confirmation follows the initiation of a preliminary investigation, which, in France, does not automatically imply wrongdoing and adheres to the presumption of innocence for the individuals involved.
Arnault's spokesperson has declined to provide any comments on the matter, while attempts to reach Sarkisov for a statement have been unsuccessful.
The Paris public prosecutor's office, in an email statement to Reuters, revealed that the preliminary investigation was initiated in 2022 and specifically pertains to transactions connected to Arnault and Sarkisov. The office has refrained from making further comments regarding the ongoing investigations.
According to reports by Le Monde, which cited the French finance ministry's financial intelligence unit, Tracfin, Sarkisov allegedly acquired real estate in a luxury Alpine resort through a complex transaction that involved a loan from one of Arnault's companies. It should be noted that Tracfin had increased its scrutiny of financial operations involving Russian investors following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
An unnamed Tracfin official, speaking to Le Monde, suggested that the transactions involving Arnault and Sarkisov, conducted through intricate legal entities, may have been designed to obscure the origins of the funds used.
The same report also included comments from a source close to Arnault, asserting that the transaction was carried out in strict accordance with French law.
The focus of the investigation appears to be the acquisition of over a dozen apartments in the ski resort of Courchevel, where Arnault's LVMH, along with related holding structures, holds significant real estate properties. The investigation continues, and further details may emerge as it progresses.
By fLEXI tEAM