China has ordered A-list movie star Fan Bingbing to pay about 884 million yuan ($129 million) in overdue taxes and fines, state news agency Xinhua said on Wednesday, as a crackdown on tax evasion in the entertainment industry gathers momentum.
Global media outlets like the New York Times and the BBC are reporting the A-list Chinese actress faces a fine of $70 million United States dollars on top of a bill of $37 million USD for back taxes. As long as she pays back that amount, plus almost 600 million yuan in fines, she will avoid criminal prosecution. As Fan has never been punished for tax evasion or any other crime before, she will not face criminal charges in this case.
In a letter posted on her official account on China's Twitter-like Weibo, Fan said she fully accepted the authorities' decision and would overcome "all difficulties" to pay the penalties.
In the opening sentence of her post, Fan explains that she has been going through a great deal of pain, has taken time to reflect, and now apologizes for her actions, "I've been enduring an enormous amount of pain".
Her agent was detained for allegedly obstructing the investigation by ordering evidence destroyed and concealing accounting documents.
She said: "Without the Party and country's good policies, without the love of the people, there would be no Fan Bingbing".
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Fan reportedly evaded $1.1 million (7.3 million yuan) in taxes by using a secret contract worth $2.9 million (20 million yuan) that she signed for starring in the Chinese film "Unbreakable Spirit". According to authorities, she evaded personal income and business taxes while working on the Chinese movie "The Bombing", also known as "Air Strike".
"I am unworthy of the trust of the society and let down the fans who love me", she wrote.
CNN reports the actress was fined by the communist Chinese government for tax evasion. A retired state television anchor, Cui Yongyuan, posted accusations on Weibo in May that included photographs of two contracts for a coming film, a sequel to one of Fan's early successes, "Cell Phone", released in 2003. She used "yin-yang contracts" to hide her finances and avoid millions of dollars in taxes.
"As a public figure, I should have abided by laws and regulations", she wrote, "and been a role model in the industry and society".
Fan Bingbing has addressed the speculation surrounding her disappearance. However, fans can now breathe a sigh of relief as many have expressed worry for her. It's not clear who exactly owes the rest of the sum. She has since been relocated to Beijing.
Detention would be an extraordinary undoing of the globe-trotting actress, who recently crossed over into American cinema with roles in X-Men: Days of Future Past and Ironman 3.