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YSL, Balenciaga owner Kering to face French tax probe

Kering boss François-Henri Pinault
Kering boss François-Henri Pinault AFP

French tax authorities are to investigate Kering, the company that owns Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Gucci, for allegedly dodging at least 2.5 billion euros in taxes between 2002 and 2017, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire announced on Sunday.


"The principle of fiscal justice will be defended in this case and in all others," Le Maire told France Inter radio.

His announcement followed claims by the Mediapart investigative website that the luxury goods giant, which is owned by the ultra-wealthy Pinault family, declared profits in Switzerland, where it has some warehouses;

it enjoys a specially negotiated eight percent tax rate in Switzerland, compared to France's 33 percent.

Gucci has saved 2.0 billion this way since 2009, while Saint Laurent Paris, previously Yves Saint Laurent, saved 180 million euros.

Since 2002, the group has dodged 2.5 billion euros, according to the site.

Balenciaga has also used the same system, Mediapart says, although it has been unable to name a figure for how much it has dodged.

Kering told the Reuters news agency that it paid its taxes in Switzerland in accordance with Swiss law and that the French tax authorities were aware of its arrangements.

Milan magistrates launched a tax evasion probe into Gucci, Kering's most profitable component, in November 2017.

According to Mediapart, the Italian company registered its management as working in Switzerland to justify its practice.

In January it denied the site's claim that it dodged taxes on the salary of Gucci boss Marco Bizzari.

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