Italy's market watchdog has fined LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton managing director Antonio Belloni 350,000 euros ($388,185) for divulging confidential information to a fund manager before the French luxury group's $6.01 billion acquisition of Italian jewelry brand, Bulgari, in March 2011. According to a statement from the Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa (“Consob”) on Wednesday, Belloni informed Alessandro Sonvico, an asset manager at Swiss-based wealth management firm, Pentagram, of an upcoming LVMH offer for Bulgari shares. Consob reported that it has also fined Sonvico 350,000 euros.
Bellini, who is a member of the Board of Directors of LVMH and Chairman of the Executive Committee, denies the charges against him and says he will appeal the Consob decision. "Mr. Belloni notes the administrative decision by Consob, which he has decided to appeal, challenging all aspects of the charges against him," Belloni's lawyers said.
According to a statement from the Paris-based luxury goods conglomerate that owns Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Celine, and Loewe, among other brands: "LVMH, which has been fully informed by Antonio Belloni throughout, maintains full confidence in its group managing director whose loyalty and integrity have been constant features since he first joined the Group in 2001.” LVMH said that according to its French and Italian lawyers, none of the positions held by Belloni would be affected by the Consob decision.
In August 2011, Consob said it was examining allegations made by an unnamed fund that the French group had paid a higher price for shares owned by Bulgari family as part of a share swap than what it was ready to pay for stock owned by other shareholders. LVMH vehemently denied the allegations saying Bulgari family owners would get the same price of 12.5 euros a share as would all other shareholders.
This news comes on the heels of a September 2016 report that two LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton executives were being held by French police for questioning in connection with a pending criminal investigation into influence-peddling, a type of corruption in which people use their connections with governments to gain favors or preferential treatment for a third party, usually in return for money.
In that instance, which centered on incidents in 2013, the two unnamed executives of LVMH, which was embroiled in a dispute with rival luxury group Hermès International at the time, allegedly received confidential information in connection with the then-pending judicial police financial investigation involving Hermès.