NewsThe second richest man in the world laundered dirty money? Investigation ongoing

The second richest man in the world laundered dirty money? Investigation ongoing

Only Elon Musk has a bigger fortune than Bernard Arnault. Photographer: Nathan Laine/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Only Elon Musk has a bigger fortune than Bernard Arnault. Photographer: Nathan Laine/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Images source: © GETTY | Bloomberg
ed. PBE

7:13 AM EDT, September 30, 2023, updated: 9:08 AM EDT, October 5, 2023

The Paris prosecutor's office is conducting an investigation into money laundering by billionaire Bernard Arnault. This is alleged to have occurred during transactions with Russian oligarch Nikolai Sarkisov. Arnault is the wealthiest European with a fortune estimated at 164 billion dollars.

According to French media, the investigation involving businessmen is related to carrying out transactions related to real estate in the exclusive Courchevel ski resort.

Bloomberg, citing "Le Monde", recalls that Sarkisov purchased 14 properties in Courchevel in 2018 through brokerage firms, but the ultimate buyer turned out to be Arnault, the CEO of LVMH, a giant in the luxury goods market. Investigators believe that acts that could constitute money laundering may have occurred.

The properties were purchased from a single seller for 16 million euros as part of a complex operation involving companies based in France, Luxembourg, and Cyprus. Although Sarkisov's name does not appear in the transaction documents, it is believed that he was the actual buyer - notes "Le Monde". It is suspected that Arnault lent Sarkisov 18.3 million euros, and then acquired the company that bought these properties.

According to "Le Monde", the change of ownership could have been aimed at "concealing the exact source of funds" as well as the identity of the "real beneficiary" of the transaction. Investigators believe that Sarkisov earned two million euros from the operation, but they still do not know how much it cost him to borrow money from Arnault.

Bernard Arnault holds, among others: Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Dior, Guerlain, and Sephora in his hands.

Arnault was the richest

"Le Monde" quotes individuals close to Arnault, asserting that the transactions were carried out in accordance with the law. The ongoing investigation does not equate to a confirmation of a crime committed.

Bloomberg values Arnault's fortune at $164 billion. Elon Musk is first ($229 billion), and third is Jeff Bezos ($150 billion). The Frenchman was even the richest man in the world as of December 2022.

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