Paris judge approves 10 million euro settlement with LVM

A Paris judge on Friday approved a 10 million euro ($ 11.27 million) settlement with LVMH that closes a criminal investigation into the role of the luxury group in a spy case involving the former head of security services. from France.

With the agreement, the world’s largest luxury group and owner of the Louis Vuitton and Dior fashion houses, avoids a public trial that could have transmitted details of the work carried out by the former head of the national intelligence services, Bernard Squarcini.

Squarcini, who was hired by the luxury goods giant in 2013, is suspected of harnessing its influence to collect classified information and, in particular, of spying on activist journalist Francois Ruffin, according to court documents.

In 2016, Ruffin produced a documentary called “Merci Patron” that put the spotlight on LVMH boss Bernard Arnault following a family who lost their job at a group supplier.

The former intelligence chief, who served as a consultant to the luxury group for several years, is under investigation for influence peddling, illegal collection of information on individuals and violation of privacy laws.

An attorney for Squarcini, who previously denied wrongdoing, declined to comment Friday.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said the agreement was “an effective means of sanctioning acts prohibited by criminal law”, which the company proved had ceased.

LVMH’s acceptance of the deal does not imply an admission of guilt or a judgment against the company, said Caroline Viguier, a judge at the Paris court on Friday.

The agreement reflects recognition of “past deficiencies, which belong to the past,” said LVMH attorney Jacqueline Laffont, speaking at a hearing before the decision was announced.

Learn more:

What’s next for LVMH’s fashion group?

As Louis Vuitton and Dior move forward, designer outings and sales in other parts of the luxury giant’s portfolio suggest that its smaller fashion assets are under scrutiny. Has the strategy really changed?

Disclosure: LVMH is part of a group of investors who, together, have a minority interest in The Business of Fashion. All investors have signed the shareholders’ documentation that guarantees the full editorial independence of BoF.

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