(Bloomberg) -- French billionaire Bernard Arnault’s dealings with a Russian businessman are being investigated for possible money laundering, the Paris public prosecutor’s office said Friday.
The investigation into Arnault and Nikolai Sarkisov involves transactions related to property in the exclusive ski resort of Courchevel, according to Le Monde newspaper.
A spokesman for Arnault declined to comment while a spokesperson for Sarkisov couldn’t be reached for immediate comment.
The French daily reported that Sarkisov bought a series of properties in 2018 in Courchevel through intermediary companies but the end-buyer turned out to be Arnault. The chief executive officer of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE is alleged to have paid Sarkisov about €20 million ($21.2 million) to own the assets, while Sarkisov allegedly made a profit of around €2 million from the deals.
The transactions appeared to mask the origin of the funds and the identity of the ultimate buyer, Arnault, investigators said, according to Le Monde. The Paris prosecutors’ office declined to comment on the details of the case.
Le Monde cited people familiar with Arnault who said the deals were carried out within the law.
Sarkisov controls the RESO-Garantia insurance company with his brother and Forbes Russia estimated his fortune in 2021 at $850 million. He became the Armenian consul to the city of Lyon, which is about two hours from Courchevel, in early 2014, French documents show. He left the post in 2019, according to Forbes Russia.
--With assistance from Irina Reznik.
(Adds detail on Sarkisov’s background in seventh paragraph.)
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