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Depardieu a role model: Belgium welcomes other French tax exiles

Published time: December 18, 2012 11:07
Edited time: December 18, 2012 15:07
Actor Gerard Depardieu. (Reuters / Eric Gaillard)

Actor Gerard Depardieu. (Reuters / Eric Gaillard)

The Belgian Foreign Minister has given carte blanche to anyone planning to follow in Gerard Depardieu’s footsteps and move to Belgium in an attempt to escape higher French taxes.

­“If other French people want to come to Belgium, I'm not at all opposed,” Didier Reynders said in an interview with Le Figaro.

He emphasized that France shouldn't be blaming Belgium if some residents, one of the leading lights of national cinema among them, are leaving the country.

“…It is totally fallacious to believe that we Belgians would do everything to attract the French. No! It turns out that for years, France has freely chosen a tax system that carries consequences and led the French to leave the country,” he added.

Earlier this week 'Cyrano de Bergerac’ star Depardieu said he was renouncing his French citizenship over the “insulting” criticism and accusations of tax evasion he faced after announcing plans to move to Belgium.

"I don't ask for approval, but I could at least be respected!" Depardieu wrote in an open letter to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. "All those who have left France have not been insulted as I have been," the actor noted.

His words referred to Prime Minster Jean Marc Ayrault`s comment when called Depardieu`s decision to leave France "pathetic", accusing the actor of an attempt to avoid taxes.

“I am surprised by the tone used against French citizens. Myself, I could be very direct in regard to some Belgians who left for Monaco or elsewhere in search of a tax haven. But I've never used any epithets blaming them personally… What I heard in France are words that we would never use in Belgium, even when we are really angry. It is a fierce debate,” Reynders told Le Figaro.

Earlier it was reported that the actor had acquired property in the Belgium village of Nechin. Le Soir newspaper said that Depardieu’s new neighbors could include the Mulliez family, a billionaire clan that owns the giant French retail chain Auchan.

Up to 27 percent of Nechin’s inhabitants are French, according to France’s Le Point magazine. Wealthy families flocked to Belgium after French

President François Hollande announced a large tax increase for the country's highest earners.

Belgium has become a tax haven for France's rich, as it doesn’t impose a wealth tax on its residents.

Luxury mogul Bernard Arnault – France's richest man – applied for Belgian citizenship after the Government proposed a 75 percent tax rate for top earners which is due to be introduced in 2013.

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