PAPER CHASE: While luxury titan Bernard Arnault’s application for Belgian nationality is still being processed, some Belgian media alleged Saturday that his businesses in Belgium are letter-box entities. In response, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton published astatement saying: “The group LVMH and Groupe Arnault were surprised to learn about the allegations published by some media. They remind that the companies of the Groupe Arnault and of the group LVMH have perfectly real economic activities in Belgium, where some of them have been for numerous decades. All of their activities perfectly conform in particular with the fiscal regulations of the Kingdom of Belgium and international law. Many French and European companies, public or private, are also implanted in other countries that are members of the European Community. Bernard Arnault reminds, for all intents and purposes, that he is and remains a French resident.”
One day prior some French newspapers’ Friday editions ran stories about how the immigration office of Belgium’s interior ministry is not in favor of Arnault’s Belgian nationality request. Reportedly that office — which is just one of three official bodies whose suggestions are heard by the naturalization commission in Belgium’s chamber of deputies — gave a negative opinion, since he has not resided in the country for three years.
This story first appeared in the December 26, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
It isn’t believed that fact will be a major stumbling block in Arnault’s pursuit of Belgian nationality. However, Le Monde’s headline read: “M. Arnault pas assez belge pour devenir belge” (or “Mr. Arnault Not Belgian Enough to Become Belgian,” in English). Meanwhile, Libération’s story was entitled: “La Belgique snobe Bernard Arnault” (or “Belgium Snubs Bernard Arnault”).
As reported, Arnault is seeking amends for public insultagainst Libération after it ran in September a photo of him under the headline “Casse-toi riche con!” – whose most polite translation is “Get Lost Rich Idiot!” The cover treatment was a riposte to Arnault’s revelation that he had applied for Belgian citizenship just as France’s Socialist government vowed to impose a 75 percent tax rate on incomes of more than 1 million euros, or $1.3 million at current exchange.