Chinese actress Fan Bingbing 范冰冰, who disappeared from the public eye during the summer, after a tax evasion investigation by the authorities, was released from secret detention and ordered to pay $130 million in taxes, fines, and late fees on Wednesday, according to Xinhua News Agency.
The saga unfolded when Cui Yongyuan 崔永元, a former TV presenter, leaked two documents, also called “yin-yang contracts,” in May. The first — the document used for tax purposes — showed that Fan was being paid $1.56 million for her role in the film Unbreakable Spirit. The second, however, revealed that she was being paid an extra $7.8 million. Cui accused Fan of hurting the entertainment industry with her massive tax evasion.
The practice of “yin-yang contracts” is not uncommon in China as a way to evade taxes. A smaller amount of income is listed on one contract for tax purposes, while a larger amount, on a separate contract, becomes used as tax-free income. In China, a star should not receive a salary higher than 40 percent of a film’s total production budget, based on a Chinese government stipulation.
After the news broke, rumors about Fan’s whereabouts ensued — the actress hasn’t been seen in public since July 1, and, while usually active on the social microblogging platform Weibo, she has been silent on it since July 23. Multiple reports claimed that she was being held in secret detention while the investigation was under way.
On Wednesday, Fan broke her silence and apologized for evading taxes in a letter posted on Weibo. “Recently, I endured an unprecedented amount of pain and suffering and deeply reflected on my behavior. I am deeply ashamed and guilty of what I have done and genuinely apologize to you all,” she said. “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 funds, and pay taxes and fines.”