Hallyday must wait for Belgian passport decision

6th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, March 6, 2007 (AFP) - Veteran French rock star Johnny Hallyday will have to wait another six months to find out whether he will be granted a Belgian passport, which critics say he covets for tax purposes.

BRUSSELS, March 6, 2007 (AFP) - Veteran French rock star Johnny Hallyday will have to wait another six months to find out whether he will be granted a Belgian passport, which critics say he covets for tax purposes.

"There are elements, notably financial, which have been reported in the press and which we wish to verify," Belgian MP Guy Hove, the head of the Belgian parliament's naturalisation committee, said Tuesday.

"We want to be sure of the situation," of his "sincerity", Hove added.

Hallyday, 63, is one of a string of famous or anonymous French nationals who have avoided the country's high taxes.

In December he admitted that he was effetively an economic migrant.

"Like many French people, I've had enough of the taxes we are forced to pay and this is it, I've made my choice," Hallyday told a French radio station.

The Elvis-influenced singer, who has sold 100 million discs over the past 40 years, already lives part of the year at his Swiss chalet in the ski resort of Gstaad.

The Belgian naturalisation committee,  composed of 17 MPs, had a long discussion on the Hallyday case before deciding, by majority decision, that it needed six more months to look into the situation, said Hove.

Recent newspaper reports have suggested that Hallyday wants to become Belgian so that he can then go and live in Monaco, where Belgian citizens enjoy tax advantages unavailable to the French. The singer denies the charge.

In order to gain Belgian residency he should in principle have his primary residence in the country for at least three years.

France's most famous rock singer was born Jean-Philippe Smet in Paris on June 15, 1943 of a French mother and a Belgian father.

The Belgian family link apart, Belgian legislation "allows nationality to be granted to people who raise the prestige of the country through their activities, for example scientific, artistic or sporting," said Socialist MP Mohammed Boukourna.

Other French personalities who chosen to live abroad include actor Alain Delon, actor/singer Charles Aznavour, former formula one champion Alain Prost and tennis champion Amelie Mauresmo.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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