In spite of the week-long National Day holiday, China’s tax authorities have been working overtime. On Wednesday they announced that actress Fan Bingbing and the companies she controls have been fined a total of nearly Rmb884 million ($129 million) for tax evasion and other commercial irregularities. The news comes three months after the star disappeared from public view, with newspapers reporting that she was held under house arrest in a luxury holiday resort.
If she can pay the sum in full, Fan will avoid criminal prosecution. But as an example of her crimes, Xinhua reports that the star received Rmb10 million in salary for Unbreakable Spirit, one of her more recent films, when she was actually paid Rmb30 million, using what the industry describes as a yin-yang contract.Other investigations uncovered tax evasion by her companies worth Rmb248 million.
Fan’s disappearance in June has put a lot of companies in an awkward position. Montblanc, which named her as a global ambassador in April, has dropped the starlet, says the New York Times. Diamond firm De Beers also took on Fan as an ambassador in late 2017. As recently as May this year, the star wore its jewellery to public events. But that relationship seems to have soured. For a recent De Beers store opening in Xi’an, the company asked Gao Yuanyuan (see WiC261), another local actress, to attend instead.
Fan was also the spokeswoman for beauty brand Guerlain, filming a lipstick advertisement for it during Chinese New Year this February. But according to the South China Morning Post, there has been no further mention of Fan by Guerlain since the scandal went public in the early summer.
Fan issued a profuse apology to the Party this week. Her contrite tone might be justified according to finance blog Gelonghui: “While the fines are damning, compared with actress Liu Xiaoqing, Fan should consider herself lucky. Liu had to serve one year of jail time when she was convicted in 2002 for evading just Rmb20 million of taxes.”
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