In September, under the headline “Casse-toi riche con!” (“Get the Eff Out, Rich Idiot!”), France’s Libération newspaper reported Bernard Arnault had applied for dual French-Belgian citizenship and would be moving to Belgium to avoid paying his home country’s proposed 75 percent supertax on top earners. The first part was true — in fact, Belgium claimed it was “in need of” Arnault — but the LVMH chairman and CEO said from the start he would stay a fiscal resident of France. Even after François Hollande abandoned his supertax plans. And even after Bernie casually transfered $7.9 billion to a Belgian bank account.
But yesterday, in a front page Le Monde article, Arnault announced he was over it. From a translation printed in the Telegraph: “I explained several times that I would remain a resident in France and that I would continue to pay my taxes there. In vain — the message did not get through.” He went on, “Today, I have decided to clear any ambiguity. I am withdrawing my demand for Belgian citizenship.” He thinks the French disregard their businessmen and entrepreneurs, saying, “Mr. Tata (founder of Tata Group) is a star in India, like Warren Buffett in the United States. In Germany, the U.K. or in the U.S., they condemn poverty to better fight it, while in France we condemn wealth.” Warren Buffett: totally a star.