Bernard Arnault, France's richest man, seeks Belgian citizenship

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Bernard Arnault, France's richest man, seeks Belgian citizenship

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The world’s fourth richest man, Frenchman Bernard Arnault, the boss of luxury goods giant LVMH, is seeking Belgian citizenship.

For all but three of his 63 years he has been domiciled in France. In 1981 after François Mitterrand became president he left for a brief sojourn in New York.

The news was broken in the Belgian press, but Arnault has denied he is following the example of some 2000 to 5000 of his compatriots who choose to pay Belgian, rather then French rates of income tax.

“It’s true, he asked for Belgian nationality in August. He’s transmitted his file, and you know that procedure demands that a number of different authorities including the Federal Justice department and the foreign office now give us their opinions. It’s the law,” says the president of the Belgian Naturalisation Commission Georges Dallemagne.

One of President François Holland’s flagship policies is a proposed 75% tax on all income over one million euros a year, but Arnault says he will remain a fiscal resident of France. He says the nationality demand is for business and personal reasons, but has been a vocal critic of the supertax.