France?s richest man moves billions to Belgium

Posted on 25 Jan at 6 PM in France Relocation Tax
Story link: France?s richest man moves billions to Belgium
France?s richest man moves billions to Belgium

France?s richest man moves billions to Belgium

France’s richest man, billionaire luxury goods mogul Bernard Arnault, has officially transferred his fortune to a Belgian investment firm set up for the purpose.

One of the first of France’s super-rich to buy property just over the Belgian border, Arnault had applied for his Belgian passport shortly after the Socialist Party came into power last year. He insists the move was to protect his family inheritance provisions, but it’s believed that tax avoidance of the controversial 75 per cent proposed tax rate for the seriously wealthy was the real reason.

Arnault is head of LVMH, controlled by family holding Group Arnault, which owns luxury brand names such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Moet et Chandon and Guerlain, all the source of his fabulous fortune. Attacks by the French media after his financial move became public knowledge accused him of harming the reputation of his unmistakably French brands and risking his employees’ jobs.

Arnault insists that his intention is to keep his holdings in family hands, and has established a structure forbidding his five children to sell their shares after his death. Such a structure is legal in Belgium, but not in France.

A source close to him said the multi-billionaire has two obsessions – the control of the group and its survival intact after his death. It has been suggested that another cause for Arnault’s defection might be President Hollande’s intention to raise capital gains tax from its present 19 per cent to at least 45 per cent and possibly as high as 75 per cent, in line with his 75 per cent income tax proposal on earnings of over one million euros a year.

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