Facebook’s Saverin on giving up citizenship: “This had nothing to do with taxes”

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin is currently taking quite a bit of heat for renouncing his U.S. citizenship prior to the social network giant’s estimated $100 billion IPO day. And after apparently growing tired of people painting him as greedy, he’s now speaking out.

Saverin recently told the New York Times he filed the paperwork to renounce his citizenship in January of 2011, but wasn’t approved until the following September. The government then reported his renouncement in April as part of its regular process. It just worked out that this announcement happen to coincide with Facebook going public, he said.

“This had nothing to do with taxes,” Saverin said. However, the 30-year-old does stand to save an estimated $100 million for dropping his U.S. citizenship. The Times  points out that Saverin is currently living as a permanent citizen of Singapore, a country that doesn’t collect a capital gains tax. Essentially, that means its very attractive for rich people.

“I was born in Brazil, I was an American citizen for about 10 years. I thought of myself as a global citizen,” Saverin also said. I don’t really buy his logic, and here’s why:

Captain Planet is a global citizen. He’s also a hero and someone who’s going to take pollution down to zero. Saverin, on the other hand, is a billionaire with a Harvard economics degree who lives in capitalist fat cat-friendly Singapore. These two identities have nothing in common. That doesn’t make Mr. Saverin a bad person, it just means he’s not a global citizen.

In the New York Times report, Saverin seemed very concerned about his personal image. He quashed the notion that he leads a playboy lifestyle, explaining that “It’s a misperception, especially the playboy… I do have a Bentley. I do go out. I’d rather not go into personal details.”

Also, the depiction of him from hit movie The Social Network (which is based on the true story of how Facebook was founded) was “more art than documentary,” he said. One of the key elements of the film’s story was Mark Zuckerberg’s betrayal of Saverin. The film even ended with Zuckerberg agreeing to a settlement to avoid a costly and messy lawsuit between he and Saverin. These details are true, but Saverin said “there was no burning there. Mark is a phenomenal guy.”

There is some truth to Saverin’s statement though. He and Zuckerberg are among the very few people who, at a young age, have achieved such a high level of success so quickly. Both men also share an inability to speak to the press.

Kidding aside, Saverin does seem keenly aware of his situation. According to the report, he’s asked a number of very rich individuals for advice on how they handled their success. He’s also honest about the difficulty in trying to wrap his head around his wealth — a problem most people probably wouldn’t mind having.

Copyright 2012, VentureBeat

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