Bernard Arnault, taken to court by French Communist party, publishes his holding company's financial statements

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Nicola Mira
Dec 6, 2019
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Bernard Arnault, the majority shareholder of luxury group LVMH, has published the financial statements of his personal holding company, Groupe Arnault, after being taken to court by the secretary of the French Communist party (PCF), Fabien Roussel.

Bernard Arnault - ERIC PIERMONT / AFP

According to the Infogreffe site, which gives access to the information companies are required to publish by law, the Groupe Arnault’s financial statement for the period ending on December 31 2018, as well as those for the years from 2014 to 2017, have been filed with the registry of the Paris trade court, one the eve of a hearing with the two parties.

In a letter to the president of the trade court, acting as referee, of which AFP has obtained a copy, Arnault’s lawyer asked the court that “the request formulated in the summons of November 12 2019 be deemed as inapplicable,” and that the court reject it, since the holding company’s statements have now been published.

“The Groupe Arnault would like to emphasise that, the publication of its corporate accounts notwithstanding, the complainant’s action is abusive in nature, being an evident misrepresentation of the purposes of the commercial legal code’s dispositions regarding the publication of companies’ financial statements, and in any case, in summary proceedings, the action will be met with serious challenges irrespective of the compliance order requested,” stated the lawyer's letter.

In a press release issued at the beginning of October, Roussel indicated his intention of taking to court Bernard Arnault and also “other major French groups, like LM Holding (Arnaud Lagardère), H51 (the holding company of Hermès) and Webmedia (owned by billionaire Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière),” on the grounds that they do not publish their corporate accounts “even though it is mandated by law.”

“The need for transparency, so widely felt in society, is all the more legitimate when applied to corporations which also benefit extensively from public funding, especially tax credits through the CICE employment and competitiveness scheme [worth €40 billion in 2019],” said Roussel, who also lamented the fact that “by refusing to publish their accounts, these groups merely risk a simple fine, going from €1,500 to €3,000 for a repeat offence.”

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