Deal targeted by probe involving LVMH’s Arnault was legal – lawyer

PARIS (Reuters) – A financial transaction under investigation in France involving LVMH owner Bernard Arnault was carried out in full respect of the law, his lawyer said on Saturday.

The Paris public prosecutor’s office confirmed on Friday that it is investigating financial transactions involving Arnault and Russian businessman Nikolai Sarkisov.

Le Monde, citing the French finance ministry’s anti-money laundering unit Tracfin, reported on Thursday that Sarkisov had acquired real estate at a luxury Alpine resort via a complex transaction in which Arnault, through one of his companies, had provided a loan.

“The operation allowing the extension of the Cheval Blanc hotel in Courcheval was perfectly known about and was carried out in full respect of the law,” lawyer Jacqueline Laffont said in a statement to Reuters.

“Media coverage of these leaks and the insinuations that have followed has made it necessary to respond. These allegations are as absurd as they are baseless.”

The prosecutors office said on Friday that a preliminary investigation had been opened in 2022 and said it would not make further comment on an ongoing investigation.

In France, a prelimary investigation does not necessarily imply wrongdoing by those concerned, for whom the presumption of innocence applies.

An unidentified Tracfin official told Le Monde the transactions involving Arnault and Sarkisov, who both acted through a complex web of legal entities, could have been aimed at concealing the origins of the funds used.

(Reporting by Mimosa Spencer; writing by Leigh Thomas; editing by Christina Fincher)