Paris, September 29, 2023 – The Paris public prosecutor’s office has initiated an investigation into money laundering allegedly involving French billionaire Bernard Arnault and Russian businessman Nikolai Sarkisov.

The probe focuses on transactions concerning Arnault, known for his ownership of the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, which has positioned him as the world’s second-wealthiest individual, trailing only behind Elon Musk, as per Reuters sources quoting the Paris prosecutor’s office. Sergei Sarkisov, Nikolai’s brother, is the founder of the Russian insurance company Reso-Garantia.

The investigation was first brought to light by the French newspaper Le Monde, which pointed to transactions related to properties in the renowned Courchevel ski resort. Le Monde cited a December 2022 document from Tracfin, a division of France’s justice system dedicated to combating money laundering. This document reportedly listed transactions that “may characterise money laundering.”

A spokesperson for Reso-Garantia strongly refuted any involvement, stating that “neither Reso-Garantia nor Mr. Sarkisov personally participated in the transaction described in the Le Monde article.” The spokesperson emphasised that Sarkisov and Reso-Garantia had not received any requests or inquiries for documents from French authorities or any other countries.

Bernard Arnault’s estimated fortune stands at $164 billion (£134 billion), according to Bloomberg, making him one of the world’s wealthiest individuals. He and his family hold a 41% stake in LVMH, the conglomerate behind renowned luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moët champagne, Hennessy cognac, Tiffany’s jewelry, and Tag Heuer watches, among others.

At 74 years old, Arnault is in the process of transitioning his empire, which he founded 35 years ago. He expanded it by acquiring some of the globe’s most recognised fashion brands and expanding sales in Asia, particularly among aspirational consumers. In January, he appointed his daughter, Delphine, to oversee Christian Dior, LVMH’s second-largest brand. Analysts have speculated that this move sets the stage for a family competition with his son, Antoine, over the company’s leadership.

The Paris investigation reportedly centers on transactions linked to the acquisition of 14 properties in the French Alpine Courchevel resort during a brief period in the autumn of 2018. These properties were situated in Jardin Alpin, an exclusive district known for its upscale restaurants offering picturesque views of the slopes.

Le Monde reported that Sarkisov had acquired real estate in this luxury Alpine resort through a transaction in which Arnault, via one of his companies, had provided a loan.

This investigation underscores the importance of transparent financial transactions and robust risk management in today’s complex global financial landscape. For individuals and businesses seeking compliance and security in their financial dealings, Verify 365 offers cutting-edge solutions tailored to meet your specific needs.

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