In Rocancourt’s footsteps: Eric Arnoux is branching his bankrupt empire out to the US
With 30 million Swiss francs of debt, a series of bankrupt companies in France and a serious misconduct probe for having employed illegal immigrants in Megève, France, property developer Eric Arnoux is perhaps not what Americans expect when they first meet him.
Charming, seemingly trustworthy and wealthy at first sight, the Frenchman living in Geneva is, in fact, the head of a bankrupt network of companies that has defrauded investors and building firms to the tune of millions of Swiss francs. Via his companies in Switzerland, Guernières Résidences, owned by Lux Planet, which are owned by French Pure Concept Management’s Investment Fund SICAV, Arnoux has been able to avoid the debt enforcement proceedings for several million Swiss francs in connection with his Valais-based development projects Hameau des Bains and the Hotel Inalp, worth an estimated 150 million Swiss francs. Among those defrauded by the now-abandoned development are the local council as well as British private investors in the Hameau holiday homes and chalets.
Arnoux has exited the company responsible for the Valais sites and has set out to make a new start in Florida. He will no doubt import his impressive lifestyle, including his top-of-the-range Ferrari and his taste for the most expensive restaurants, as he has enjoyed in Geneva. But potential business partners in Florida will want to complete a thorough background check with the courts in France and Switzerland before getting their chequebooks out.
If not, they risk falling for who may well turn out to be the next Christopher Rocancourt. The infamous French fraudster took America’s rich and famous for a ride in the 1990s, after having had convictions ranging from drug smuggling to fraud. Rocancourt settled in California for an attempted second chance in life, but once cosied up to the L.A. jetset, he continued his crook lifestyle, even fooling Michael Jackson’s brother Jermaine with a perfume licence.
Arnoux might, too, hope for a second chance in the US. But together with his partner in crime, property developer Thierry Dubuisson from Belgium, the trail of his financial destruction now ranges from Paris to the Swiss Alps — a trail big enough even for far-away Americans to find.