- The Washington Times - Monday, March 18, 2013

Actor Gerard Depardieu denies he left “sad France” to evade its skyrocketing tax rates, instead saying the country’s government is incompetent.

“France is sad, and I think the French are fed up. The lack of conviction. … It seems that the government doesn’t know how to do its job,” the actor said Saturday in an interview with local Belgian television channel Notele.

About French President Francois Hollande, Mr. Depardieu said: “It’s his first time. He never held a ministerial post. He just had the Correze, which is in deficit,” referring to the central in-the-sticks region where Mr. Hollande made his early political career.

Speculation grew last year that the actor was feeling France to evade Mr. Hollande’s tax hike on the rich. Mr. Depardieu drew ire from the French after he accepted a Russian passport from President Vladimir Putin.

He says taxes are not his sole reason for moving, though he does find Mr. Hollande’s fiscal policy to be “a bit over the top.” He said friends and the availability of local meat also played into his decision, France 24 reports.

Mr. Depardieu has said that he paid 85 percent tax on his revenues in 2012, France 24 reports.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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