In the midst of the Golden Week holiday and around three months since China’s most famous film star was last seen in public, tax authorities have finally made an official announcement regarding the fate of Fan Bingbing. Update: Fan has also officially responded — see below.
In late May, Fan was accused by TV presenter Cui Yongyuan of using “yin-yang” contracts (i.e. two agreements for the same work — one submitted to authorities and one hidden), thus avoiding tax on millions of dollars worth of earnings. She refuted the allegations, but was then placed under investigation and subsequently hasn’t been seen or heard from in public since July.
In case you’ve somehow missed the myriad headlines about the actor’s disappearance, or if you just want a refresher on how things got to this stage, here’s our piece on the background to this case:
Where is Fan Bingbing?
Now, the authorities have announced that Fan Bingbing will be heavily fined for tax evasion after they established that her and her representatives were guilty of avoiding hundreds of millions of RMB in tax. The official announcement is a complicated one and doesn’t make clear what proportion of the fines she’ll personally be responsible for, but together with her “representative companies” and other “guilty parties”, the total amount of related fines is likely to be over 800 million RMB and could come to almost 1 billion RMB (145 million USD).
Among the productions singled out by the authorities for criticism is the China-produced, Bruce Willis and Adrien Brody-led World War II flick Unbreakable Spirit (also known as Air Strike), which is due for release later this month and in which Fan Bingbing makes a “special appearance”. Jiangsu Province’s tax authorities, who carried out the investigation, said that she had vastly under-reported her income for the film.
According to a brief report on the matter from Xinhua, Fan has agreed to repay the tax owed along with any fines. It also suggests that she won’t face further criminal action regarding this case and will avoid prison due to her previous good record and this being her first offence, assuming she pays up on time. Other news reports have suggested that she’s now also been released from secret detention.
In her first post on Sina Weibo since early June, Fan issued an official apology for her behavior:
Fan Bingbing’s tax evasion apology on Weibo
In the statement, Fan says she “accepts the judgement completely” and talks of the “immense pain” this experience has caused her. The statement also talks of how she’s “always been interested in the arts ever since childhood” and that her success in this realm “is down to the support of my country and the people.” One sentence reads, “Without the policies of the Party and the country, without the love of the people, there is no Fan Bingbing.”
In addition to her film and TV roles, Fan was the face of numerous brands in China, but her reputation has undoubtedly been tarnished by this case and her disappearance caused headlines around the world. Quite what this will mean for her film and sponsorship career going forward of course, remains to be seen.
Chinese Authorities Take Aim at “Money Worship” Following Fan Bingbing Contract Scandal
Feng Xiaogang Finally Responds to Cui Yongyuan Over “Yin-Yang Contracts” Scandal
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