France's richest man's bid to be Belgian suffers setback

BRUSSELS Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:00pm IST

LVMH Chief Executive Bernard Arnault speaks during a news conference to present the group's 2010 results in Paris February 4, 2011. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/Files

LVMH Chief Executive Bernard Arnault speaks during a news conference to present the group's 2010 results in Paris February 4, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgian prosecutors have advised against giving citizenship to Bernard Arnault, France's richest man and chief executive of luxury group LVMH (LVMH.PA), whom critics accuse of seeking to avoid French taxes.

Arnault had not shown he had principally been living in Belgium for the required period of at least three years, a spokesman for the prosecutors said.

"There is also a preliminary examination of his businesses in Belgium," he added.

An LVMH spokesman in Paris said the prosecutors' decision was no more than "a stage in the process of seeking a double-nationality which won't prejudice its final outcome."

Arnault's bid for Belgian citizenship in September caused uproar in France. Critics believed the move was a bid to avoid a then planned 75 percent supertax on income over 1 million euros and duties on wealth. Arnault has denied this is the reason.

Belgian citizenship is granted by a parliamentary committee, which takes advice from prosecutors, the state security agency and the immigration office. The latter also gave negative advice last month, Belgian media reported.

Arnault has several companies in Belgium, a number of them officially based in a modest apartment building in the Belgian capital, others in a glass office block on chic commercial street Avenue Louise.

LVMH has said its Belgian activities and those of the Arnault group are entirely legitimate and in compliance with the country's tax rules.

Belgian residents, whether or not they are Belgian citizens, do not pay a wealth tax, which in France is now levied on those with assets over 1.3 million euros. Nor do they pay capital gains tax on share sales.

French actor Gerard Depardieu confirmed last month he was leaving France for Belgium to shelter from tax, a moved branded by French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault as "pathetic". Depardieu has since received a Russian passport.

France has been studying how to amend the supertax on the rich - a key plank in President Francois Hollande's campaign platform last year - after it was thrown out by a top court. A government source said last week it could abandon its reference to a special 75 percent tranche. (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; additional reporting by Jean-Michel Belot; Editing by Mark Potter)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Fighting Ebola

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Fighting IS

Fighting IS

Turkey to let Iraqi Kurds reinforce Kobani as U.S. drops arms to defenders.  Full Article 

Hong Kong Unrest

Hong Kong Unrest

Hong Kong students, officials set for first talks on political crisis.  Full Article 

Suffering Children

Suffering Children

Violence kills a child every five minutes, most outside war zones - U.N.  Full Article 

County In Turmoil

County In Turmoil

South Sudan sexual violence "rampant," 2-year-old raped - U.N.  Full Article 

Putin's Proposal

Putin's Proposal

Polish ex-minister quoted saying Putin offered to divide Ukraine with Poland.  Full Article 

Nuclear PactNuclear Investigation

Nuclear Investigation

UN nuclear chief suggests progress slow in Iran investigation.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage