Shock at French actor Gerard Depardieu's tax exile in Belgium
French politicians reacted with dismay after it emerged the country's leading actor, Gerard Depardieu, has taken up the role of tax exile in neighbouring Belgium.
It was confirmed on Monday that he has taken up residence in Nechin, a tiny village just over the border in Belgium which is a favoured spot for wealthy French nationals.
Local mayor Daniel Senesael suggested Depardieu had been drawn to Nechin by the attractions of country life as much as the fiscal shelter it offers.
"He wanted to find somewhere to stay in Belgium to escape French taxes but he could just as easily have settled in Brussels," the mayor told Belgian TV.
Nechin's rural charm has already seduced a number of Depardieu's compatriots. A quarter of the village's population is French, among them the Meunier and Mulliez families, respective owners of the Carrefour and Auchan supermarket chains.
"It is sad because he is a great actor and someone I know and like," said Bertrand Delanoe, the Socialist mayor of Paris. "He is a generous man but in this instance he is not showing that."
Jean-Francois Cope, one of the leaders of the main right-wing opposition group, the UMP, pointed the finger of blame at President Francois Hollande's tax policies.
Hollande, who famously declared "I don't like the rich" during his election campaign, had pledged to tax income of more than €1 million (HK$10 million) per year at 75 per cent.