Fan Bingbing: China says missing actress fined for tax evasion

Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing took to social media for the first time in months Wednesday to apologise to fans and the Communist Party for tax evasion, shortly after news broke that authorities had ordered her to pay almost $130 million in back taxes and fines. As long as she pays back that amount, plus almost 600 million yuan in fines, she will avoid criminal prosecution. If Fan Bingbing pays the $107 million in full, she'll reportedly avoid criminal prosecution as it's her first offense.

Fan's disappearance from public view sparked widespread speculation she had been detained by the authorities.

After June, when she posted her visit to a children's hospital on social media, she vanished from sight, to the dismay of her fans.

Citing sources with knowledge of her case, the South China Morning Post has reported that Fan was released from "secret detention" about two weeks ago as the investigation into her finances wrapped up. "Without the [Communist] party and the state's good policies, without the love from the people, there would be no Fan Bingbing".

She was fined more than 479 million yuan (about US$70 million) personally and ordered to pay more than 288 million yuan in unpaid taxes, and her companies were fined a total of 125 million yuan. "I have failed my nurturing country, I have failed society's trust, and I have failed the love of my fans!". She also praised her country and its government.

According to reports, Fan Binbing, 37, lied to authorities about how much money she received for certain film projects. The example described in the report referred to a reportedly common entertainment industry practice - an actor having a public contract stating an official salary and a private contract detailing actual, much higher pay.

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

When Fan dropped out of sight, the Chinese government had just put in place salary caps for TV actors. In September, Beijing Normal University and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences gave 100 television and film personalities "social responsibility rankings".

Since then, the government has been mum about the actress, who is known to American audiences for her roles the X-Men franchise and other films and has been a regular on global red carpets. She has turned heads at the Cannes Film Festival for years, to where fashion brands like Armani, Versace, Dior and Louis Vuitton want to dress her. Esquire's China edition named her the "Most Beautiful Woman In The Year" in 2012.

  • Kyle Peterson