France’s stock market watchdog, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF)’s sanctions committee has slapped LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton with a fine of $10.4 million, stemming from its acquisition of nearly 20% in rival luxury brand Hermès. The AMF began an investigation into LVMH’s purchase of stake in Hermes in 2010, and in April, announced that it found that LVMH had secretly bought shares in rival Hermès to build a stake in the iconic Paris-based design house, and not merely to make a financial investment as LVMH has claimed. LVMH denies that any insider trading and share price manipulation has taken place.

The sanctions committee’s decision is separate from the luxury rivals’ court proceedings. The two are currently embroiled in a bitter legal battle. Hermès filed a criminal complaint against LVMH in a Paris court in July 2012, accusing the luxury conglomerate of insider trading, collusion and manipulating stock prices. In September 2012, LVMH filed a counter complaint against Hermès for “blackmail, slander and unfair competition.” These cases are currently pending.

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault spoke out this week at LVMH’s annual general meeting in Paris regarding the ongoing battle between the company and Hermès. According to WWD, “with LVMH facing scrutiny about whether it respected market rules in amassing a 22.6 percent stake in Hermès,  Arnault claims he came into the holding unexpectedly.” Arnault further reiterated that “his intentions toward Hermès were peaceful and he did not plan to increase his stake in the family-controlled firm.”

This is especially interesting, as the two parties are currently involved in rival lawsuits. Last year, Hermès launched a criminal complaint against LVMH, accusing the luxury conglomerate of insider trading, collusion and manipulating stock prices (stemming from LVMH’s purchase of Hermès shares in 2010).

In October 2010, LVMH announced (to much surprise) that it had “amassed a 17.1 percent stake in Hermès via cash-settled equity swaps that allowed it to circumvent the usual regulations requiring firms to declare share purchases.” As of Dec. 31 last year, it had raised its stake to 22.6 percent. In response to Hermès’ suit, LVMH, filed suit against Hermès for slander, blackmail and unfair competition.