China orders actress Fan Bingbing to pay massive tax fine

Fan Bingbing has not been seen in public since July following claims of tax evasion

The Chinese actor Fan Bingbing, who has been missing for months amid rumours of possible wrongdoing, has been fined for tax evasion.

Fan and companies she represented also evaded 248 million yuan ($36 million) in additional taxes, Xinhua said, but it gave no details regarding this figure.

The 37-year-old actress, who has more than 60 million followers on the Twitter-like Weibo, has vanished from public view amid a scandal about movie stars under-reporting their earnings.

Of the total amount, Fan is being personally fined around $70 million U.S. for tax evasion, according to an announcement carried by China's official Xinhua News Agency Wednesday, citing tax authorities.

Fan Bingbing is China's best-known actress and highest-paid celebrity for four years running, earning a reported $43 million last year. Though this is the first fans have heard from her in months, it's still unclear where she actually is, and whether she is in fact being detained by Chinese authorities as many have speculated. For these violations, the Jiangsu Tax Bureau is fining Fan and her legal representative 880 million yuan. I am deeply ashamed and feel guilty for what I have done, and I offer my honest apologies to everyone.

Fan's troubles began when Cui Yongyuan, a former presenter for state-run China Central Television (CCTV), posted purported contracts online in May that suggested the actress had received under-the-table payments.

Earlier today, Chinese authorities put an end to much of that speculation, announcing that Fan had indeed taken advantage of "yin-yang contracts" and had been found guilty of tax fraud. "I have failed my nurturing country, I have failed society's trust, and I have failed the love of my fans!". "I would like to apologise to everyone for this", wrote Fan.

"I owe my success to the support of my country and people".

Following the investigation into Fan, authorities have declared a wider crackdown on the entertainment industry, Xinhua said.

Citing sources with knowledge of her case, the South China Morning Post has reported that Fan was released from "secret detention" about two weeks ago as the investigation into her finances wrapped up. With "yin-yang' contracts, actors sign double contracts, one of which covers a lower fee while the other is considered tax-free income".

Fan broke into the worldwide movie scene with her role in the 2014 "X-Men" movie.

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