Bernard Arnault, CEO of luxury-goods group LVMH, is reportedly being investigated in France for money laundering.

The Paris public prosecutor’s office has been monitoring the case since last year, according to a report by French newspaper Le Monde.

The 74-year-old, also chairman at the Dom Perignon brand owner, is allegedly being investigated over a business deal with Russian businessman and billionaire Nikolai Sarkisov.

In December last year Tracfin, part of France’s finance ministry, raised concerns with Lyon’s public prosecutor’s office over the duo’s business partnerships and potential money laundering. The case was then passed on to Paris.

The probe centres on the purchase of around 12 apartments in French ski resort Courchevel, Le Monde reported. LVMH also owns the Cheval Blanc and White 1921 hotels in Courchevel, which are part of its hotel management arm.

Sarkisov reportedly leant money to Arnault for the purchase via a “complex” transaction involving several of the pair’s business entities – which Tracfin viewed as a laundering threat.

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The paper also cited a source close to Arnault who said the deal had been carried out lawfully.

Just Drinks has contacted LVMH.

Last year, Arnault announced plans to reorganise his holding company in a bid to ensure long-term family control over LVMH. 

Arnault, who is Europe’s wealthiest individual and one of the richest in the world, planned to turn his family holding company – Agache – into a joint-stock partnership, in a move designed to hand control of the entity to his five children, all of whom work for LMVH.

“This new structure will permit to perpetuate the family control over the long-term and will permit a unified expression of the controlling shareholder’s voice regarding Christian Dior SE and LVMH SE,” Agache said in a statement at the time.

In the first half of 2023, LVMH reported lower wine-and-spirits sales, pointing to “softer” demand in the US. In the opening six months of the year, sales from LVMH’s Cognac and spirits business unit declined 11% on an underlying basis to €1.6bn ($1.7bn).

The result dragged down sales from the wider wines-and-spirits division, which fell by 4% to €3.1bn and were 3% lower on an organic basis.