France’s richest man ‘sends wealth’ to Belgium

France's richest man 'sends wealth' to Belgium
Billionaire Frenchman Bernard Arnault sent 'almost 80%' of his wealth to Belgium. Photo: Francois Guillot/AFP
France's richest man, the billionaire Bernard Arnault, whose quest for Belgian nationality has caused uproar in his native country, has already transferred ‘almost all his wealth’ to Belgium, it was revealed on Thursday.

Despite authorities in Brussels not yet having sanctioned his application for Belgian nationality it has been reported in France that Bernard Arnault, the billionaire head of the luxury goods empire LVMH has already transferred most of his fortune over the border.

Arnault caused uproar in France in September last year when it emerged he had applied for Belgian citizenship. He was accused of seeking the move to avoid France's proposed 75 percent tax, although this was firmly denied by Arnault himself.

A report in French newspaper Liberation on Thursday is likely to add fuel to the fire by suggesting Arnault  has already transferred nearly 80% of the value of his holding company The Arnault Group – estimated to be worth 6.5 billion – into a Belgian corporation called Pilinvest.

According to Liberation the colossal transfer of wealth involved two transactions made on December 7 2011.  Firstly, 4 million shares Arnault Group, worth around 31 percent of the value of Arnault Group were deposited in Pilinvest.

A second transfer mas made with 48.5% of the Arnault Group’s capital being deposited it in the Belgian company.

Earlier in January Arnault's application to become Belgian was held up because he could not prove that Belgium had been his principal residence for the last three years, as is required.

Arnault has an estimated personal worth of $24 billion according to Bloomberg News.

Much of his wealth has come from the Louis Vuitton fashion house, Moët winery and Hennessy cognac house.

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