BEIJING — Chinese tax authorities have ordered “X-Men” star Fan Bingbing and companies she represents to pay taxes and penalties totaling $130 million but would spare her from criminal prosecution, state media said Wednesday.
The announcement ended months of speculation over one of China’s highest-profile entertainers since she disappeared from public view three months ago amid reports she was being investigated for tax fraud.
Of the total amount, Fan is being personally fined around $70 million for tax evasion. The official Xinhua News Agency cited tax authorities as saying Fan 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.
The announcement, carried by Xinhua, gave no indication as to Fan’s whereabouts but indicated her agent was being held by police for allegedly obstructing the investigation.
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.”
Fan posted an apology on her official account on the social media site Weibo.com saying that she accepts the tax authorities’ decision and would “try my best to overcome all difficulties and raise funds to pay back taxes and fines.”
“I am unworthy of the trust of the society and let down the fans who love me,” she wrote in her first update of her Weibo.com microblog since June 2.
A man surnamed Liang, who identified himself as a staff member of Fan’s studio when reached by phone, refused to comment on the announcement or on Fan’s location.
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.
Fan evaded 7.3 million yuan in taxes by using a secret contract worth 20 million yuan that she signed for starring in the film “Air Strike,” the report said. She had instead paid taxes on a contract for only 10 million yuan, Xinhua said. This referred to a reportedly common entertainment industry practice — an actor having a public contract stating an official salary and a private contract detailing actual, much higher pay.
A talk show host, Cui Yongyuan had said in May that Fan had such an arrangement, which allegedly helps facilitate tax evasion, and revealed details that sparked a public outcry. Cui later apologized.