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French tycoon's threat shakes Socialist tax plan

FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2009 file photo, Bernard Arnault. Chairman and CEO of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the Paris-based luxury goods empire, presents the group's 2008 results in Paris. La Libre Belgique newspaper reported Saturday Sept.8, 2012 that
FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2009 file photo, Bernard Arnault. Chairman and CEO of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the Paris-based luxury goods empire, presents the group's 2008 results in Paris. La Libre Belgique newspaper reported Saturday Sept.8, 2012 that Arnault's citizenship application was confirmed by the head of Belgium's naturalization office. French media drew a connection to French President Francois Hollande's plan to raise the tax rate on France's highest earners to 75 percent.
Michel Euler, File, Associated Press

PARIS — France's richest man, Bernard Arnault — the CEO of luxury giant LVMH, which includes Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton — has confirmed reports that he is seeking Belgian citizenship.

Arnault's move Sunday has triggered a national outcry and is widely seen as a way to dodge Socialist President Francois Hollande's plan to tax the richest people at 75 percent. Hollande himself has publicly questioned the tycoon's patriotism.

Arnault has denied that his decision had anything to do with tax evasion — even though Belgium's high tax bracket is considerably lower — and has said he will continue paying French tax.

Still, Hollande's plan is already being called a public relations disaster that will hurt French competitiveness by discouraging top talent from living in or moving to France.