Chinese actor and model Fan Bingbing has been mysteriously absent from public life and social media since July, and her depiction in the country’s state-run media has been relentlessly defamatory. Rumors swirled that the disappearance was related to a tax evasion scandal, and that Fan was being detained by authorities. Now, CNN reports news from China’s Xinhua, which confirms that the 37-year old has been ordered to pay almost $130 million in fines and back taxes. Fan has also broken her social media silence, yet her whereabouts remain unknown.
Fan allegedly was engaging in “yin-yang contracts,” which work to conceal a performer’s true compensation from authorities and, thus, avoid millions in taxes. Since this is her first offense, Xinhua reports, Fan will evade criminal prosecution if she pays the fines.
In a message posted to Weibo, she apologizes profusely to both the public and China’s government. “As a public figure, I should have abided by laws and regulations, and been a role model in the industry and society,” she wrote. “I shouldn’t have lost self-restraint or become lax in managing (my companies), which led to the violation of laws, in the name of economic interests.”
Fan’s language is telling here, as the Chinese government has sought to crack down on an entertainment industry it believes promotes “money worship” and a “distorting [of] social values.” A state-affiliated study conducted recently labeled Fan a poor role model for China, which has a history of trying to turn its celebrities into political mouthpieces.
“Without the favorable polices of the [Communist] Party and state, without the love of the people, there would have been no Fan Bingbing,” she added.
Xinhua makes it clear that Fan’s case was a warning shot. As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, the State Administration of Taxation has launched a campaign to recover all back taxes in the entertainment industry, and promises criminal charges will hit anyone who doesn’t comply by the December 31 deadline.