French Tycoon Denies Attempt To Avoid 75% Tax
The richest man in France is seeking
Belgian nationality but denies it is an
attempt to avoid the country's new 75% top
rate of tax.
President Francois Hollande has promised
to impose the rate on incomes above 1m
Bernard Arnault, the 63-year-old billionaire
head of the LVMH luxury goods empire,
has made an application to the
But he says he will not become a tax exile and will also keep his French citizenship.
The Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique had quoted Georges Dallemagne, the head of the Belgian
parliament's naturalisation commission, as saying that Mr Arnault's application would be treated "the same
as all the others".
"We currently have 47,000 before us," he told the paper.
Belgian legislation requires applicants for citizenship to have had at least three years residency in Belgium,
barring which they need to prove ties to the country, Mr Dallemagne said.
Mr Arnault lives in Paris and has a home in Brussels, the newspaper said.
"Contrary to the reports published today, Mr Bernard Arnault states that he is and will remain a French tax
resident," a statement put out by Mr Arnault's press office said.
"If he obtains dual French-Belgian nationality it would not change this position, nor his determination to
pursue the development of the LVMH group and the creation of jobs in France which this engenders."
The statement said Arnault's move was linked to plans for his own private Groupe Arnault "to expand its
numerous activities in Belgium".
"Mr Arnault, who is from northern France, has many personal and family ties with Belgium as well as on the
professional front," it added.
Press reports this week said the French government was looking to water down the tax measure by raising
the threshold to 2m euro for couples and excluding capital gains.
But on Friday finance minister Pierre Moscovici vowed that the campaign promise would be "strictly"
The new tax is due to be included in the 2013 budget, which the government expects to finalise later this
Mr Arnault, whose fortune is estimated to stand at $41bn (£25.6bn) by Forbes magazine, was a close ally
of France's former right-wing president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Following the election of France's previous Socialist president Francois Mitterrand in 1981, Mr Arnault lived
in the United States for three years, returning to France after the Socialists switched to a more conservative