Chinese actress Fan Bingbing fined over 800 million yuan for tax evasion

Fan Bingbing Photo: Elle

Fan Bingbing, one of China's highest-paid actresses, has been fined over 800 million yuan (about $130 million) for tax evasion, which brings her back into the spotlight four months after her disappearance from the public eye, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday.

In their investigation, China's tax authorities found that Fan owed over 255 million yuan in unpaid taxes, of which 200 million yuan was regarded as tax evasion.

She and her companies were ordered to pay the unpaid taxes, and fined about 600 million yuan.

Tax authorities said that they would not formally pursue Fan for "criminal responsibility" and effectively close her case if she paid her dues before an undisclosed deadline.

In a letter posted on her official Weibo account which has over 63 million followers, Fan, who turned 37 last month, apologized to the public and the government.

"Recently, I have experienced unprecedented pain and agony, and I have undergone profound thought and reflection," she said. "I feel ashamed and guilty about what I have done, and I sincerely apologize to you all!"

"As a public figure, I should have abided by laws and regulations, and been a role model in the industry and society.

"I shouldn't have lost self-restraint or become lax in managing my companies, which led to the violation of laws, in the name of economic interests."

Fan admitted to signing so-called "yin yang contracts" and said she "completely accepts" the decision by tax authorities.

"Without the favorable polices of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the state, without the love and care of the people, there would have been no Fan Bingbing," she added.

On May 28, outspoken TV presenter and producer Cui Yongyuan took to Weibo, alleging that Fan had signed yin yang contracts to evade tax.

Fan's studio immediately issued a statement on its official Weibo account, denying any wrongdoing and vowing to protect her legitimate rights by legal actions.

After that, she vanished after the Chinese authorities announced a tax investigation.

Fan's wrongdoings have opened the door to a broader crackdown on superstar salaries in the entertainment industry.

In late June, five Chinese entertainment and propaganda regulators announced a rule to cap payments for actors and actresses in TV shows and films, citing yin yang contracts as a problem, although they didn't specifically name Fan.

In fact, Fan isn't the first high-profile actress in China to fall from grace.

Many have compared her case to that of Liu Xiaoqing, a leading Chinese actress in the 1980s.

Liu was arrested in 2002 and released after spending a year in jail. Though she wasn't charged, she was required to pay 7.1 million yuan in fines.

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