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Economy

Gérard Depardieu to give up French nationality in tax-exile row

media Gérard Depardieu AFP

French film star Gérard Depardieu says he has given up his French citizenship because Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault dubbed his decision to become a tax exile in Belgium “pathetic”. In an open letter to the premier he says he is sending back his passport and his social security number.

“Pathetic, you said pathetic. That’s pathetic!” storms the actor in his letter, published in the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday.

Depardieu’s move to a plain but, at 800,000 euros, expensive house in the Belgian village of Néchin, two kilometres from the border from France, apparently to dodge a hike in wealth tax, has angered the government and its supporters.

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Ayrault called it “quite pathetic” on Wednesday, a phrase that seems to have infuriated Depardieu.

“I don’t ask for approval, I could at least be respected. Not everyone who has left France has been insulted as I am being insulted,” he writes.

“I am returning to you my passport and my social security number, which I have never used,” he goes on. “We no longer have the same fatherland, I am a true European, a citizen of the world.”

Depardieu claims to have always paid his taxes since starting work in a printshop at the age of 14 and asks Ayrault who he thinks he is to judge him.

He also slams French judges for jailing his son, Guillaume, who died in 2008, “for two grams of heroin when so many other people do not got to prison for much worse crimes” and makes a passing reference to his forthcoming court appearance for drink-driving in Paris.

The actor’s declaration should please Socialist MP Yann Galut, who was so enraged by his move that he proposed stripping tax exiles of their nationality, a suggestion that proved to be legally impossible.

If Depardieu has sent his passport back, he may face more problems with police and customs officials. There is no record of him having any other nationality.

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