- The Washington Times - Friday, January 25, 2013

France’s wealthiest resident has transferred his fortune to Belgium, citing “family inheritance reasons” and the desire to ensure his fortune is passed to his five children when he dies, according to one media report.

Bernard Arnault, the billionaire head of the luxury products group LVMH, has moved his fortune to Belgium, The Daily Mail says.

Alhough Mr. Arnault doesn’t blame France President Francois Hollande’s new 75 percent tax rate on the wealthy as cause for the money transfer, critics do — and coincidentally, he did apply for a Belgian passport as soon as the Socialist Party won elections in 2012, the Daily Mail report notes.

Arnault’s empire boasts some of the world’s most recognizable - and valuable - brands, from Moet & Chandon champagne to Dior perfume.

But his real clout, and cash, stems from his company’s powerhouse fashion holdings: Louis Vitton, Donna Karan, Thomas Pink, Fendi, Berluti, Marc Jacobs and Givenchy.

The Belgian Office of Foreigners could delay Mr. Arnault’s passport, but parliament members have the final say.

Mr. Hollande’s tax is generating quite a controversy among the wealthy. Hollywood actor Gerard Depardieu fled the nation earlier this year, citing the tax burden as he mulled Russian citizenship.

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy is also reportedly fleeing for London to avoid France’s high levy.