Chinese actress Fan Bingbing reappeared in public for the first time in about a year since she disappeared from the public eye.
In September 2018, Chinese Communist Party officials, via a state-run publication, confirmed that she was placed “under control, and will accept the legal decision” for alleged tax evasion. At the time, according to a prior Epoch Times report, the 37-year-old actress was accused of receiving more payment than she officially acknowledged to hide her income.
But Fan, who was been listed as the highest paid Chinese celebrity by Forbes for five years, showed up at a Beijing gala on April 22 to support a video-streaming platform, according to The Guardian.
She is best known in the West for her role in “X-Men: Days of Future Past” along with other Chinese, French, and Korean films.
Fan also posted a photo of herself at the gala on Instagram—the first social media post she has made since May 2018.
When she disappeared, there were rumors that she had left China, was in prison, or was under house arrest.
Since June, the regime has been investigating tax evasion in its film and television industry, following reports that some of its most famous actors have been accused of signing so-called “yin-yang” contracts, one of which sets out the real terms, while a second—with a lower figure—is meant for tax officials.
According to the Chinese state-run news outlet’s article, Fan’s “yin-yang contracts are only the tip of the iceberg. She is also suspected of participating in illegal lending and other forms of corruption. In the worst case, she faces legal punishment.”
Xinhua, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, said an investigation by Chinese tax authorities found that Fan had evaded taxes of 7.3 million yuan ($1.1 million) over payments for her role in “Air Strike,” a film due to be released this year. Fan and companies she represented also dodged 248 million yuan ($36 million) in additional taxes, Xinhua said, without offering further details, Reuters reported.
The tax bureau in the eastern province of Jiangsu delivered its judgment to Fan on Sept. 30, levying fines of more than 596 million yuan ($86.7 million) for tax evasion and assessing overdue taxes of more than 288 million yuan ($42 million), Xinhua said.
Fan also issued a public apology over the matter.
“I’m ashamed of my behavior and I apologize here to everyone,” Fan wrote last September.
Fan, as a first-time offender, will face no criminal charges if she complies with the judgment and pays the money by an undisclosed deadline, according to Reuters.
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The State Administration of Taxation (SAT) said companies and individuals in the industry who voluntarily “rectify their behavior” and pay back taxes evaded prior to Dec. 31 will be exempt from administrative punishment and fines, Xinhua said.
After these “yin-yang” contracts were exposed, the State Administration of Radio and Television reportedly cracked down on tax evasion and “money worship” in the entertainment industry, with a regulation stipulating that actors shouldn’t be paid more than 40 percent of the total film production costs, and lead actors can’t earn over 70 percent of the total pay for the cast.
Reuters contributed to this report.