May 18th, 2012
07:46 AM GMT
(CNN) – Eduardo Saverin, one of the co-founders of Facebook, gave his first major interview published Thursday in the wake of a growing backlash against his renunciation of U.S. citizenship.
Pressure has grown from U.S. lawmakers to tighten tax code on expatriates after press reports surfaced that Saverin – a native of Brazil who became a U.S. citizen as a teenager after his family moved to the U.S. – renounced his U.S. citizenship, which was published April 30 on the U.S. Federal Register. Saverin, who has lived in Singapore since 2009, is now a permanent resident of the city.
The public release of his renunciation, coming on the eve of Facebook’s initial public offering (IPO), has raised hackles.
“I’m not a tax expert,” Saverin told the New York Times. He said he filed to renounce his citizenship in January 2011 and it became official in September. “We complied with all the known laws. There was an exit tax.” Bloomberg estimates the billionaire paid exit taxes of about $365 million.
In a statement Thursday, Saverin told CNN it was "unfortunate" that his choice had led to a debate "based not on the facts, but entirely on speculation and misinformation."
He added: "I am obligated to and will pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to the United States government. "I have paid and will continue to pay any taxes due on everything I earned while a U.S. citizen."
As CNNMoney reports, U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Bob Casey held a press conference Thursday morning on Capitol Hill where they outlined legislation that would prevent the Facebook co-founder from ever returning to the United States. Schumer and Casey are calling their bill the "Ex-PATRIOT Act."
Estimates of the value of Saverin’s stake in Facebook vary between $2.5 billion and $3 billion. According to Bloomberg, Saverin stands to save an estimated $67 million in taxes by renouncing his citizenship.
In the interview with the New York Times, Saverin also complained about the media characterization of a “playboy” lifestyle in Singapore. “It’s a misperception, especially the playboy,” he said. “I do have a Bentley. I do go out. I’d rather not go into personal details.”
Saverin was Facebook’s first investor and first CFO, but had a falling out with co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, which was dramatized in the movie, “The Social Network.” The other two founders were Dustin Moskovitz, who Forbes crowned the world’s youngest billionaire in 2011, and Chris Hughes, who recently bought controlling stake of the New Republic magazine. Only Zuckerberg has stayed with the company.
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