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France's richest man in tax row

Monday, September 10, 2012 - 01:53

Sept. 10 - LVMH boss, Bernard Arnault, was advised to 'get lost, rich idiot' in a newspaper headline as a controversy about his quest for Belgian nationality fuelled the debate about President Hollande's emergency tax on the rich. Sonia Legg reports.

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Liberation's condemnation of France's richest man has lit a fuse. Their headline writers told the owner of luxury goods brand LVMH to "get lost, rich idiot". Bernard Arnault is trying to become a Belgian citizen but he says it has nothing to do with a proposed 75 percent tax rate for the super rich. Many aren't convinced. (SOUNDBITE) (French) PARISIAN PASSER-BY JOSEPH BENICHOU, 63, RETIRED, SAYING: "It's an insult to the French, an insult to France. It means we don't have the right to have political change." (SOUNDBITE) (French) PARISIAN UNIDENTIFIED PASSER-BY, SAYING: "It's shocking, it has always been shocking, but it's always existed and it will never change." LVMH exports clothes around the globe and Arnault has openly criticised the President's tax initiative. He's the world's fourth richest man, according to Forbes, with a total wealth of 41 billion dollars. He's also emigrated before - heading to the States during the last Socialist government. Former Prime Minster Francois Fillon said he was shocked a top boss had been forced to take drastic action but was more shocked by the media attack. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FORMER FRENCH PRIME MINISTER FRANCOIS FILLON, SAYING: "Who is more patriotic in this country? Is it someone who has created thousands of jobs, is it someone who contributes, and gets people to pay several billions of euros in tax, is it someone whose work is admired everywhere in the world or is it those who write such articles?" Last week Francois Hollande was forced to deny reports he was planning to water down the 75 percent tax rate for anyone earning more than a million euros. Ironically, he'd just visited London for a meeting with the UK Prime Minister. David Cameron recently said he'd "roll out the red carpet" for any French firms wishing to escape high taxes. Sonia Legg, Reuters.

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France's richest man in tax row

Monday, September 10, 2012 - 01:53