IS IT FAIR? Fan Bingbing faces huge fines, but escaped criminal charge

BY SILVI WRITER

 

Chinese super star Fan Bingbing will escape criminal charges if huge taxes and fines are paid on time.

Fan, 37, has been ordered to pay taxes and fines worth nearly 884 million yuan ($129 million) over tax evasion, the country’s taxation authorities said Wednesday after an investigation, said China’s state news agency Xinhua.

The actress had been linked to a government probe into how celebrities reported earnings in their contracts.

The targeting of Fan was a warning with authorities launching an effort to recover back taxes from others in the entertainment industry. There is an amnesty for those who pay up by 31 December; those to fail to meet the deadline could face criminal charges.

The actress, who disappeared in July, posted a long apology on social media, saying she was deeply ashamed of her crimes and apologized to tax authorities and the public.

Some film stars were alleged to have used so-called “yin-yang contracts” – a practice where one contract sets out an actor’s real earnings, and another details a lower figure, with the latter submitted to the tax authorities.

Fan isn’t China’s first film star fined for tax evasion.

Compared to Liu Xiaoqing, who was put in jail for a year from 2002-03 and fined 7.1 million yuan, Fan may find herself more fortunate.

Liu, 62, a leading film star in China in 1980/90s, was arrested in summer 2002.

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In April 2004, Xinhua published a report, saying the two-year tax evasion case involving Liu finally closed with a ruling fining her company 7.1 million yuan ($858,500 then).

According to the People’s Court of Chaoyang District in Beijing, Liu’s Culture Art Co. Ltd. was charged with evading nearly 6.68 million yuan ($807,730) of taxes from 1996 to 2001.

The court said the illegal tax conduct of this company, which fabricated account books and evaded a 30 percent of the total taxes each year, had constituted a crime.

Jing Jun, mainly in charge of the company’s finance, was convicted of being directly responsible for the tax dodge. Jing received a three-year imprisonment.

Considering the company had already paid back all the evaded taxes before the ruling, the court had shown leniency in penalty, Xinhua said.

Liu, who was the company’s board chairwoman, was released on bail in August 2003 after a year in jail. She has not been charged in the case against the company.

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Fan’s disappearance from the public was a sudden one.

She was last seen in public in July when she visited a children’s hospital. She stopped posting on all social media accounts around the same time, and her whereabouts have been the subject of intense speculation.

In comparison, Liu’s arrest, back in summer 2002, had been covered by China’s media in details.

“Walking out of her over 500-square-metre villa in Beijing Rose Garden accompanied by officials from the local public security bureau, Liu seemed exceptionally calm, though 1.96 million yuan ($220,000) in funds from her company account has been frozen”, the Shanghai Star, under China Daily, reported.

But the figure of her evading taxes hit over 10 millions yuan ($1.2 million). Insiders said a big part of her private property had been transferred to France and Canada.

After she was put in jail, media report said even “Liu’s mental outlook is not so good”.

In the Qincheng Prison where she was jailed, Liu sometimes was very hysterical and even knocked her head into the wall, Shanghai Wednesday reported.

The hair of the 50-year-old woman then was also whitening almost overnight without the help of hair dyeing.

Liu’s friend Mr Chen who used to labour together in the countryside said Liu seemingly had the premonition, according to Shanghai Star.

She told Chen that if she was put into prison, she would do three things: “I will learn English first. My English won’t be worse than my performing skills after I am released,” she said, “Second, I will do exercises to keep my spirits high. The third is reading.”

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Beginning as an actress, Liu won fame and awards in the 1980s for such features as “A Town Called Hibiscus”.

Liu started her acting career in an army modern drama troupe in Chengdu, capital of her home province of Sichuan, after graduating from the middle school affiliated to Sichuan Conservatory of Music in 1970.

Years later, she made her way into films and finally was recruited by Beijing Film Studio.

Liu distinguished herself with a vivid, touching and natural performance as Qing Dynasty Empress Dowager Ci Xi in the film “The Reign Behind the Curtain”, which finally made her China’s movie “queen”.

Liu was the only Chinese actress to have won the top movie award three times.

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