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France’s wealthiest people storing €20 billion in assets in Belgium
Some 40 of the 500 richest French people are storing €20 billion worth of assets in Belgium through stakes in companies headquartered in the country, reports L’Echo and De Tijd.
The newspaper conducted its investigation using the ranking of the top 500 French fortunes as determined by Challenges magazine, and learned that about half of them choose to be domiciled in Belgium.
This motivation to reside in Belgium is largely to avoid paying the so-called wealth tax introduced by former French president François Hollande.
Among these 40 wealthy French people, 10 individuals or families alone have interests worth €15 billion in Belgian companies.
Bernard Arnault, the head of luxury holding company LVMH, attempted to naturalise himself as a Belgian. But the move was met with immense criticism in France and he didn’t go through with the citizenship process. Nevertheless, part of his capital flowed to Belgium.
The Blue Tower (pictured) in Avenue Louise in Ixelles is home to three of Arnault's Belgian companies: Pilinvest Participations, Pilinvest Investissements and Belholding. Together, they have an 81% stake in Agache, a holding company with interests in LVMH, the global leader in luxury goods, among others.
Altogether, Bernard Arnault has holdings worth €7.7 billion in Belgium.
A large proportion of the money that wealthy French people transferred to Belgium in order to avoid the wealth tax has not yet found its way back to France, the media investigation found.