Chinese actress Fan Bingbing has admitted to underpaying tax but looks likely to avoid criminal punishment. Photo: Baidu
Chinese actress Fan Bingbing has admitted to underpaying tax but looks likely to avoid criminal punishment. Photo: Baidu

China’s highest-paid actress Fan Bingbing has been fined more than 880 million yuan (US$128 million) for tax evasion and other offenses, according to Xinhua state news agency.

The famous actress was linked to an investigation of “yin and yang” contracts, one of which is created for tax reporting purposes while the other shows the artist’s real earnings.

The 36-year-old actress, known for her role in the 2014 Hollywood film ‘X-men: Days of the Future Past’, has not been seen in public for more than three months. Her disappearance led to rumors that she had been taken into custody for improper dealings while officials were cracking down on the film industry.

The actress appears to have agreed to a settlement that will see her avoid criminal charges if she pays on time, while her agent has been detained for further inquiries.

On Wednesday, Fan posted an open apology to her millions of fans on her Weibo account, saying: “I’ve been suffering unprecedented pain recently … I’m so ashamed of what I’ve done. Here, I sincerely apologize to everyone.

“I completely accept all the penalty decisions made according to law, after the investigation done by tax authorities. I will follow the order, try my best to overcome difficulties, raise fund, pay taxes and fines.”

Fan also praised the ruling Chinese Communist Party in her statement. “Without the good policies of the Party and the state, and without the love of the people, there would be no Fan Bingbing,” she said.

The investigation allegedly found that Fan had made 30 million yuan in the upcoming film “Air Strike”, but only reported that she made 10 million yuan. That represented a loss of 7.3 million yuan to state tax authorities.

All up, Fan and her companies were said to have under-reported 248 million yuan in revenue, 134 million yuan of which was deemed as tax she had should have paid. Under the mainland tax law, she had to pay a fine of 255 million yuan, a fee of 33 million for late payment, plus hefty penalties.

The investigation into Fan’s affairs began in May after she appeared at Cannes film festival when a former presenter China Central Television posted a purported movie shoot contract that raised questions about her tax declarations, AFP reported.

The scandal has also led to authorities declaring a wider crackdown on the entertainment industry, Xinhua said. Offenders are being offered an amnesty until December 31 to pay any taxes they owe.

Beijing decided to clamp down on the double contracts practice in the movie industry, which is known for its ambiguous accounting and over-budget practices.

In another development, top singer Faye Wong might have to pay back 90 million yuan because she was reported to have received 100 million yuan from Mango Television for a three-month show called PhantaCity.

This is not the first time Chinese movie stars have been involved in such problems. Director Feng Xiaogang, actor Huang Xiaoming and actress Zhang Ziyi have all been investigated by tax officials in China.

And actress Liu Xiaoqing was jailed for more than a year for not paying tax amounting to 18 million yuan in 2002.