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Dep-adieu...rich actor quits France in tax row

Gerard Depardieu has declared that he will return his French passport and leave his homeland, in an exasperated letter where he fired back at the French government's criticism of his decision to move to Belgium.

The French actor, whose eccentric personality has come to symbolise a certain, old-fashioned form of Gallic love for good food and the pleasures in life, also known as a "bon vivant", said he is finished with the country, in a letter published in the Journal du Dimanche.

It is addressed to Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French prime minister, who called Depardieu "pathetic" for wanting to move just over the French border to the wealthy Belgian town of Nechin, where he will evade the current Left-leaning government's tax hikes.


"I am handing over to you my passport and social security, which I have never used," he said. "We no longer have the same homeland, I am a true European, a citizen of the world, as my father always taught me to believe.

"Despite my excesses, my appetite and love for life, I am a free being, Sir, and will remain polite."

Following news of his plans to relocate in Belgium, and sell his 19th century Paris mansion, public scorn -- especially on the political Left -- has magnified for the actor who has come out in support of former conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy.

A Socialist MP said Depardieu should be stripped of his nationality, and on Saturday, President Francois Hollande said "everyone must behave ethically," after being questioned about Mr Depardieu's move.

Nonetheless, Depardieu remains widely popular in France, despite making headlines for occasional drunken and lewd behaviour. The actor asserts he has always been an upstanding citizen, deserving "respect" and who has employed 80 people, always paid his taxes, and "never killed anybody".

He said he paid 85pc of his income in taxes in 2012, and over 45 years, has paid ¤145m in taxes.

He said his reasons for renouncing his citizenship are due in part to fundamental disagreements with the current Socialist-led government, which has introduced several new tax hikes, including a 75pc per cent tax on millionaire earners.