China fines Fan Bingbing in months-long tax evasion case

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Xinhua said an investigation by Chinese tax authorities found Fan had split her contract to evade 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 appeared in the X-Men and Iron Man film franchises and has more than 62 million followers online in China.

Reuters, citing Chinese state media, said the actress' fines totaled 479 million yuan ($69.74 million), while her outstanding back taxes were calculated at 255 million yuan ($37 million). Because she was a first-time offender, the government said criminal charges would not be filed against her if she pays all the money by an undisclosed deadline, Xinhua reported.

"For the past few months, I have experienced pain and torture like never before", she wrote.

Fan Bingbing broke her silence by posting a letter of apology on social media in which she admitted wrongdoing and promised to "overcome all difficulties and raise funds" to repay what she owes.

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After the contract documents went viral, the national tax administration announced it had instructed authorities in eastern Jiangsu province to investigate alleged use of such dual contracts in the entertainment industry.

Among the productions singled out by the authorities for criticism is the China-produced, Bruce Willis and Adrien Brody-led World War II flick Air Strike, in which Fan Bingbing made a "special appearance". For these violations, the Jiangsu Tax Bureau is fining Fan and her legal representative 880 million yuan.

'Without the good policies of the party and the state, and without the love of the people, there would be no Fan Bingbing'. For a long period of time, I did not uphold my responsibilities of safeguarding the interests of my country and society against my personal gain. I am deeply ashamed and feel guilty for what I have done, and I offer my honest apologies to everyone. The statement also talks of how she's "always been interested in the arts ever since childhood" and that her success in this realm "is down to the support of my country and the people". I once again offer my honest apologies! I would really like to ask for everyone's forgiveness.

Last year, Fan topped Forbes magazine's list of top-earning Chinese celebrities with income of 300 million yuan ($43 million).