Bernard Arnault’s lawyer refutes any money laundering of her client with a Russian oligarch

Bernard Arnault’s lawyer tried on Saturday to deflate the current controversy surrounding his client. The accusations made by the CEO of LVMH in an alleged money laundering case involving Russian oligarch Nikolai Sarkisov during a real estate transaction in Courchevel, in Savoie, are “as absurd as they are unfounded,” she said. .

“The operation which was carried out to enable the expansion of the Cheval Blanc hotel (LVMH brand) in Courchevel is perfectly known and was carried out in compliance with the laws and with the support of advisors. The investigation, apparently underway, will not fail to note this,” explained Me Jacqueline Laffont.

An investigation opened in 2022 targeting Sarkisov

The Paris Prosecutor’s Office indicated on Thursday that an investigation had been opened in France since 2022 for suspicions of money laundering targeting Nikolai Sarkisov and that the investigations had been extended to real estate transactions involving Bernard Arnault. According to the same source, a report from Tracfin – the financial intelligence unit of the Ministry of the Economy – relating to operations involving Bernard Arnault and Nikolaï Sarkisov in Courchevel was attached to the procedure.

According to The world, which is based on this note, the Russian billionaire acquired 14 real estate properties there in 2018 from individuals, for 16 million euros, via a complex set-up of companies in France, Luxembourg and Cyprus. The official buyer is the general partnership La Flèche. The name of Nikolai Sarkisov does not appear in the statutes, although he would have been the effective holder. Through this SNC, he would have acquired three other properties in the same resort for 2.2 million euros. However, the seller is SNC Croix Realty, which would have made a capital gain of 1.2 million euros. And its owner, via a new set-up of companies, would be none other than Nikolai Sarkisov.

To finance all of these operations, Bernard Arnault would have paid Nikolai Sarkisov 18.3 million euros. Before repurchasing all of the shares in La Flèche, thus becoming the effective beneficiary of the assets.

Insane “allegations”, according to Me Laffont

“The change of final beneficial owner of real estate acquisitions (…) tends to mask the exact origin of the funds, to complicate the operations and the identification of the actual purchaser, and to reflect a desire to conceal the actual beneficiary of all these operations, that is to say Bernard Arnault”, according to the investigators in the Tracfin note, cited by The world. According to their calculations, Nikolai Sarkisov would have made a capital gain of 2 million euros. But the counterpart of this “transfer of funds” “is not known”, they emphasize.

“Who can seriously imagine that Mr. Bernard Arnault, who for forty years has built the first French and European company, would engage in money laundering to expand a hotel? », Launched Me Laffont. “I think that the insane nature of these allegations cannot escape anyone,” the lawyer also said.

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