The Paris public prosecutor’s office has formally confirmed its initiation of an investigation into financial transactions involving Bernard Arnault, the owner of LVMH, and Russian businessman Nikolai Sarkisov.
This preliminary investigation, in accordance with French legal norms, carries no presumption of guilt for the individuals involved, as the principle of innocence prevails.
Arnault’s spokesperson has opted not to comment on the matter, and as of now, Sarkisov remains unavailable for a statement.
In an email response to Reuters, the Paris public prosecutor’s office disclosed that this preliminary investigation was launched in 2022 and verified its connection to transactions involving Arnault and Sarkisov. No further comments regarding the ongoing investigations were provided.
Le Monde, citing France’s finance ministry’s financial intelligence unit Tracfin, reported on Thursday that Sarkisov had acquired real estate in a luxurious Alpine resort through a complex transaction, involving a loan provided by one of Arnault’s companies.
Tracfin heightened its scrutiny of financial operations involving Russian investors following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
An unnamed Tracfin official informed Le Monde that the transactions between Arnault and Sarkisov, executed through intricate legal entities, may have been intended to conceal the source of the funds involved.
The newspaper also quoted an individual close to Arnault, stating that the deal was executed in full accordance with French law.
Le Monde reported that the investigation primarily focuses on the acquisition of over a dozen apartments in the Courchevel ski resort, where LVMH, along with related holding structures, possesses several significant properties in the luxury and real estate sectors.