UPDATE 1-Arnault's Belgian nationality application sees firms probed

Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:40am EST

(Updates with confirmation from LVMH)

BRUSSELS Dec 19 (Reuters) - Brussels prosecutors are investigating Belgian companies owned by Bernard Arnault, chief executive of French luxury group LVMH, as part of his application for Belgian nationality.

"It is a purely administrative inquiry, one that is required as part of the framework of acquiring Belgian citizenship," an LVMH spokesman said on Wednesday.

Belgian business dailies De Tijd and L'Echo both reported the investigation had been running for two months. Arnault applied to become Belgian in September.

Brussels prosecutors declined to comment.

Arnault, France's richest man, has several companies in Belgium, a number of them officially based in a modest apartment building in the Belgian capital, others in a glass office block on chic commercial street Avenue Louise.

News of the investigation emerged days after French movie star Gerard Depardieu said he was planning to move to Belgium to avoid tax increases in France. (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels, Lionel Laurent in Paris; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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