X-Men star Fan Bingbing fined millions for tax evasion
Missing Chinese actor makes fulsome apology online for ‘betraying the people’
Chinese actress Fan Bingbing pictured during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival in May. Photograph: Franck Robichon/EPA
China’s most famous actor Fan Bingbing has made a public apology after she was fined hundreds of millions of yuan for tax evasion, her first public pronouncement since she disappeared in June.
Fan is best known in the West for her appearances in the X-Men and Iron Man film franchises.
According to a statement from the tax authorities carried on the state news agency Xinhua, Fan was fined more than 479 million yuan (€60 million) for tax evasion.
She has to pay back 288 million yuan (€36 million) in unpaid taxes, while companies belonging to her were fined 125 million yuan (€16 million).
Tax authorities said she would escape criminal charges if the fines are paid on time.
She disappeared shortly after a former presenter on state broadcaster CCTV, Cui Yongyuan, publicly accused her of large-scale tax evasion. She was held while under investigation by tax officers in Jiangsu province, near Shanghai.
As one of China’s biggest stars, there was fevered speculation about Fan’s fate during her time under investigation.
Fan made the apology on her Sina Weibo social media account, saying she had experienced pain and suffering unlike anything she had experienced before, and promising to accept the punishment and pay back the fines and back taxes.
‘Beseiged by fears’
“Everything I have achieved cannot be separated from the country and the people. Without the good policies of the Communist Party and the country and without the love of the people, there would be no Fan Bingbing,” she said.
“Today, I am deeply besieged by fears about my guilt. I let down the country down that raised me, ruined the trust society has placed in me and also let the fans down who like me. Here, I want to sincerely apologise, and please forgive me.”
The Xinhua statement said she was investigated for signing “yin-yang contracts”, where a person reports an initial smaller contract that is submitted to tax authorities while a second, larger contract is the real income.
The Xinhua statement said the investigation was prompted by reporting of her income from the film Air Strike, which features Bruce Willis and the Chinese star Liu Ye.
The crackdown on taxes in the entertainment industry is part of a broader anti-graft campaign under president Xi Jinping.
The State Administration of Taxation has said it wants to recover all back taxes in the movie business by the end of the year.
The government has long considered fees paid in the entertainment industry as too high. Last year it issued a regulation saying fees for actors could not exceed 40 per cent of the total production cost.