As we reported last year, the LVHM Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton CEO Bernard Arnault had filed an application for residency in Belgium to escape his native France’s oppressively high tax rates. Back in December, the rumors were swirling that his controversial bid would be rejected. Now, the richest man in France is turning the tides on his own and has reportedly withdrawn his application entirely. Hmm.
WWD reports that Arnault requested an audience with French daily Le Monde yesterday to deny that he had any intention of tax evasion. Instead saying, his withdrawal of the application should be seen as “a gesture of my attachment to France and my faith in its future.” The trade goes on:
He noted that LVMH companies pay annual French taxes totaling close to 1 billion euros, or $1.31 billion, even though the group generates 90 percent of its revenues outside the country. “Concerning myself, I won’t tell you how much how much I pay personally in taxes, but believe me, it’s a lot,” he said.
He explains that his LVMH shares — a huge portion of his wealth — have indeed been transferred to a Belgian foundation, but that should not impact the company’s taxes due in Paris. We’ll need an accountant to look into that. In a hilarious move to turn his own somewhat shady dealings into political grand-standing, he told the paper, “In Germany, the U.K. or the United States, one condemns poverty in order to fight it, while in France, we condemn wealth.” It’s hard out there for a billionaire, you guys.
Well, we can feel somewhat bad for the guy. Last year when this whole controversy cropped up, French newspaper Libération ran a front-page photo of Arnault with the headline: “Get Lost Rich Idiot.” Too bad for them, it looks like he’s sticking around.