One of the biggest celebrities in China, film star Fan Bingbing has released a letter of apology for massive tax evasion – her first social media post in almost half a year.
Just hours after China’s tax department announced she would need to pay a total of 883.9 million yuan ($179.4 million) in unpaid taxes and fines, the 37-year old broke her silence on the social media platform Weibo.
Posting a letter to her 62 million followers, the X-Men and Iron Man star said “In the recent period of time, I’ve never experienced such pain and torment; I’ve profoundly reflected and engaged in self-examination, and I feel deep shame and guilt about my behaviour, and for this I’d like to say to everyone I’m sincerely sorry”.
Fan went on to admit she used “split contracts” on a film and other projects, saying she had neglected the best interests of the country and society.
Split contracts, also known as “yin and yang” contracts, involved studios submitting one document to the tax department but secretly paying a star substantially more money on a separate contract.
Fan also said she “completely accepts” the ruling of tax authorities and vowed to repay the huge fine and unpaid taxes.
Apology praises Communist Party
Her apology letter also paid tribute to China’s ruling Communist Party by saying she partly owes her success in the country’s fast-rising film industry to those overseeing it: “If it weren’t for the good policies of the Party and the state, and without the care and love of the people, there wouldn’t be Fan Bingbing.”
Her vanishing act in June sparked wild speculation in China about her fate, including reports she had been detained.
In September, a media report from China’s state-run Securities Daily said Fan was “placed under control”. But the online story vanished not long after it first appeared.
The South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday that Fan was released two weeks ago from “residential surveillance” at a “holiday resort” in Jiangsu, used to investigate officials, and transferred to authorities in Beijing for further investigation, citing unnamed sources.
Reuters was unable to contact Fan or her agent when inquiring about those reports.
A Chinese TV anchor was widely reported in May to have posted tax-dodging pay agreements online that appeared to implicate Fan.
The yin-yang contract scandal has prompted Chinese regulators to cap the amount film studios can pay top stars.
The Jiangsu provincial tax bureau delivered its judgments to Fan on Sunday, state news agency Xinhua said.
–ABC, with wires