French actor Gerard Depardieu has blasted his home country's leaders for forcing him into tax exile, saying that the French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and President Francois Hollande are "punishing success."
With the country facing one of the harshest economic climates to date, Hollande and Ayrault have hiked up taxes for the rich in France, and the 1% are not happy about it at all - particularly not Depardieu. With the increase on taxes imminent, the legendary actor began selling up and moved across the border to Belgium, where the taxman in more lenient on the rich. Since then, PM Ayrault, who is second in command to President Hollande, described Depardieu's behavior as "pathetic" and unpatriotic at a time when the French are being asked to pay higher taxes to reduce a bloated national debt. Again, Depardieu wasn't happy.
In an open letter to the French media, the Cyrano de Bergerac star said, "Pathetic, you said pathetic? How pathetic is that? I am leaving because you believe that success, creation, talent, anything different must be sanctioned."
So up in arms about the whole debacle, Depardieu is said to have also inquired about procedures for acquiring Belgian residency, after saying that he plan on handing in his passport and social security card. This comes as one angry French minister has declared that the French adopt a policy similar to that in America, where anyone trying to escape full tax dues to forego their nationality.
Depardieu's move across the boarder follows Bernard Arnault's own fleeing of the country to protect his own wealth. Arnault, chief executive of luxury giant LVMH and France's richest man, caused outrage in his home country three months ago when he began seeking to establish residency in Belgium, although he did say it was a move not based on tax reasons. Somehow, we don't quite believe him on that.