A Chinese film star “missing” for three months has broken her silence after tax authorities in Beijing ordered her to pay taxes and penalties totalling $130 million (£100m).
Fan Bingbing, who appeared in Hollywood blockbuster X-men, will be spared criminal prosecution but will have to pay a large fine for tax fraud, authorities said.
The announcement ended months of speculation over one of China’s highest-profile entertainers since she disappeared from public view amid reports she was being investigated for tax fraud.
“I sincerely apologise to everyone. As a public person I should be in compliance with the law and be an example for society and the industry,” Fan said in a statement posted on an official social media account.
“In the face of economic benefits, I should not lose my restraint and forsake administrative procedures that lead to violations of the law.
“Without the [Communist] party and the state’s good policies, without the love from the people, there would be no Fan Bingbing,” she wrote in her first update of her microblog since 2 June.
Of the total amount, Fan is being personally fined around $70 million (£53m) for tax evasion but she would not be held criminally accountable for tax evasion as the taxes, fines and late fees amounting to nearly 900 million yuan ($130 million) were paid on time.
There is still no indication as to Fan’s whereabouts, who has disappeared from the public eye for three months.
Her disappearance coincided with a crackdown by the authorities on high salaries for actors that can eat up much of the cost of a production. In June, regulators capped star pay at 40 percent of a TV show’s entire production budget and 70 percent of the total paid to all the actors in a film.
Her agent is however being held by police for allegedly obstructing the investigation, according to Xinhua News Agency.
Fan has starred in dozens of movies and TV series in China and is best known internationally for her role as Blink in 2014’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” a cameo in the Chinese version of “Iron Man 3,” and star turns on the red carpet at Cannes as recently as May.
Before her disappearance, she had been booked to star with Penelope Cruz in the Hollywood film “355.” She has a role in the upcoming Bruce Willis-Adrien Brody feature “Air Strike.”
A man surnamed Liang, who identified himself as a member of staff at Fan’s studio when reached by phone, refused to comment on the announcement or on Fan’s location.