Fan Bingbing released from resort-prison, makes full confession to tax evasion

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The story of Fan Bingbing is strange and tragic. Bingbing is arguably the most popular actress in China – she works steadily, she’s beloved, she has major beauty contracts and she’s incredibly well-known and well-respected in China. But she was possibly engaged in so-called yin-yang contracts, where actors/celebrities would sign two different contracts: one contract with a small dollar amount, for which they would pay taxes, and a second contract with a larger salary, for which they would not pay taxes.

Basically, Bingbing has committed tax evasion for years, and she owes the government millions of dollars. That in itself would be a big story, but over the summer, Fan Bingbing went MISSING. Like, she was in the wind. No one knew where she was, no one heard from her, not friends, not family, no one. A rumor began circulating that the government had sent her to some kind of secretive detention center because of the tax issue, which was also pretty weird. Now a new layer of weirdness: Fan Bingbing is out, and she’s apologizing and admitting her crimes.

Fan Bingbing is reportedly free. The Chinese star, who recently sparked public concern after having not been seen in public or on social media in months, has been reportedly released from “residential surveillance at a designated location,” the South China Morning Post reported. According to the newspaper, which cited unnamed sources with knowledge of Bingbing’s case, the actress was reportedly released from what the newspaper described as a form of secret detention roughly two weeks ago and went to Beijing, where she lives. Per the report, one source said she had been kept in a “holiday resort” where officials are allegedly investigated.

News of her alleged release comes on the heels of fines handed down on the actress by Chinese authorities for unpaid taxes and penalties. According to The New York Times, the star was fined the equivalent of nearly $70 million for underreported earnings and an additional $60 million in back taxes her production company owes. According to the Times, tax authorities said she would not face criminal charges as long as the fines and back taxes are paid by the deadline.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bingbing posted a lengthy apology on Weibo on Wednesday, in which she stated she felt “ashamed that I committed tax evasion in the film Unbreakable Spirit and on other projects by taking advantage of ‘yin-yang contracts.’” The type of contract has been described as one where an actor signs two contracts for the same job, one for the amount they were actually paid and one with a lower amount for tax purposes.

“Throughout these days of cooperation with the taxation authorities’ investigation into my accounts, as well as those of my company, I have come to realize that, as a public figure, I should have observed the law, setting a good example for society and the entertainment industry,” she continued. “I shouldn’t have lost the ability to control myself in the face of economic interests, allowing myself to break the law. Here I sincerely apologize to society, my friends who care about me, the public and the taxation authorities…. I completely accept the penalties given by the taxation authorities after their thorough investigation. I totally accepted all of them, and will raise funds to pay my taxes and penalties regardless of any obstacles.”

[From E! News]

I think I understand… so, the Chinese authorities went to Bingbing, told her she was suspected of tax evasion and escorted her – probably with force – to some kind of jail-resort where she was interrogated extensively for months as they “investigated” her even further. And because she’s a high-profile individual, I assume that they were like “okay, once you admit everything, we can start to make a deal where you can be free but you won’t have any money,” after months of all of that, she was like “please, let’s do that.” It’s… bizarre. But I think I understand it now.

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54 Responses to “Fan Bingbing released from resort-prison, makes full confession to tax evasion”

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  1. Who ARE these people? says:

    Did they make an example of the producers who wrote these contracts?

    You know who else didn’t pay millions on taxes? The Trump family. For that, Donald Trump gets to be president and voluntarily spend half his time at actual resorts.

    • Abby says:

      right, how come the people that WROTE the contracts, the people on the other end of the deal, didn’t get punished? Is it only her that benefitted?

      • BearcatLawyer says:

        Oh the Chinese government is going after them too, but because they are not famous, we will simply never hear from them again.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        Bearcat…true true

      • bros says:

        she was the collateral damage. The chinese gov has been going after political enemies and fat cats who represent competitive (industrial) threats to the party. her bosses pissed someone off who is high up and she was just the appetizer.

    • Darla says:

      And this is sort of exactly what the trumps did, well, ONE of the things they did, to evade taxes. Trump has never faced one tiny little consequence in his life, and it doesn’t look like daddy trump did either, and this is why we are where we are. I feel like american created this dude, and that he ended up as president kind of makes sense. the biggest turd the american system ever crapped out, sure, why not make him president. we made him.

    • Holly hobby says:

      @bros yep that’s the right story. I read it from the Chinese press. They were targeting her benefactor.

  2. Clare says:

    @Kaiser if you read into these ‘resorts’ you’ll find that those held there (imprisoned) are more of than not treated horrificly/tortured. Using the word resort for this is a misnomer and completely misrepresents the human rights abuses that take place.

    I can promise you she wasn’t sunbathing by the pool while this ‘investigation’ was taking place.

    This is all part of the current Chinese regime’s strategy to dilute personal wealth and celebrity culture, which is an obvious challenge to the government…it’s not as simple as she was evading taxes and got caught.

    • ByTheSea says:

      Exactly. She was being held prisoner and possibly tortured until she agreed to issue this statement. The only reason she didn’t disappear forever like so many others is because of her fame.

    • Darla says:

      I didn’t know that. Can she get out? Of China I mean, for good.

      • Anatha. A says:

        Not that easily if at all, because that would make her a traitor on top. Few people left China under such circumstances, but she’d be a political refugee and in need of constant protection. There are cases where China abducted their citizens from other countries, after they asked for asylum.

      • Darla says:

        I see. Thank you for the reply.

      • A says:

        Lmao, the comments in this thread as a whole are truly something else, omg.

        @Darla, the answer is that it’s more complicated than that, and it’s not anywhere near as sensationalist as some people are saying here.

        No, Fan Bingbing isn’t going to be called a “traitor” if she leaves the country and pursues opportunities that she’s offered overseas. There are plenty of Chinese expats who have functionally left the country and chosen to reside elsewhere after they’ve achieved a level of success with their careers. She could very well do that, but she likely won’t do it immediately if that’s your question, but in the future, who knows.

        This isn’t a case where she needs to ask for asylum either. She’s convicted for tax fraud. She’s not a political dissident by any stretch of the imagination, so the idea that she’s going to have to request asylum is a big reach. She’ll very likely keep a low profile and continue working on whatever projects she gets, pay her taxes appropriately for a few years, and then move to whichever place in SE Asia that has a significant (& wealthy) Chinese diaspora/expat population and a large enough tax break for her to make a home there. Just the same as any other rich person in the rest of the world, lol.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Yes this wasn’t a Martha Stewart kind of situation.

    • KidV says:

      I was thinking this sounded more like a shake-down. Give us your money and sign this statement, and maybe we won’t kill you.

    • A says:

      The Chinese government isn’t out here trying to “dilute personal wealth and celebrity culture” though. The government is fully aware that personal wealth is a big driving factor behind their economy at present. They’re not going to do anything drastic that risks driving away the people in the country who hold the purse strings. What they will try to do is make sure that whatever money is spent winds up in the government’s coffers and not in the private pockets of politicians (through bribes) or the wealthy (through tax evasion). They have very little to gain by limiting Fan Bingbing’s career prospects long term tbh–the less she earns, the less she pays the government, and the less she ultimately invests in the local entertainment industry, which gives them absolutely no net value.

      As for diluting celebrity culture, I feel like this is massively ignorant of how much influence the local entertainment industry there has. And not even the local Chinese industry, but also that of places like Taiwan and Hong Kong and South Korea etc. The government tries to flex its muscles for sure, but people aren’t going to stop liking their movies and their TV shows and their music, and that’s not going to change any time soon.

      With the “resorts”–I’m not going to insinuate that she’s sunbathing. But the notion that those resorts aren’t exactly a hardship is something that the average person in China would agree with. The rich in China are punished far more differently, and much more leniently than the average person, just like everywhere else in the world. She’s not going to be put up in a five star hotel or anything, but she’s not going to be treated like she’s an Average Joe Hawker on the street who’s dodging taxes, or a middling bureaucrat who’s pocketing bribes in exchange for fast tracking road permits either.

    • bros says:

      There is reason now to believe the Chinese have kidnapped the actual chief of interpol. https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/05/europe/interpol-president-meng-hongwei-disappearance-intl/index.html

      add to this the recent indictment of 7 russians hacking WADA and the ones who were trying to break into the organization investigating the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury in the Hague and you have two very very bad actors emboldened right now.

  3. BearcatLawyer says:

    The Chinese government likes to make examples out of high profile individuals. All of this is pretty standard operating procedure, including the wordy apology. She is lucky she just lost her career and will only be broke. She could have faced years in prison.

    • Anatha. A says:

      Agree. Surprised by some answers. China is a communist state. Stealing from the people is the worst crime you can commit. They see their stars as propaganda tools. An actress doing tax evasion and thereby succumbing to capitalist demons is not a petty crime there. They needed to punish her and the Chinese government isn’t exactly known as following all human rights.

      • Eliza says:

        I read into this yesterday and found that many rich in China beach the rules. Both actress/ producers lied about amount given and it happens frequently. Also, individuals can only export like 5 figures in money outside of China, but NYC/Vancouver etc. Luxury real estate is being bought up in the 8 figures by individuals from China. Which would also be illegal.

        This is making an example of her to scare everyone into line.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        People fairly easily forget that China is a Communist regime and what that means for its people. Oppression and corruption are hallmarks.

      • hhhh says:

        People forget? What people? Americans who post tone-deaf articles about how a Chinese actress was sent to a “resort” you mean? Americans who are so self-centered they bring up Trump in every article even though this has nothing to do with US politics? Who the hell doesn’t know that China is a vicious dictatorship? It’s hilarious how here everyobdy is “woke” (lol liberal feminism at its finest) until it comes to a country other than the US and suddenly it’s all “well pay your taxes people”. Seriously unbelievable. No wait scratch that. Totally believable of this website.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        hhhh as the saying goes, if you don’t like it, you can leave.

        Actually a lot of people don’t think of China as a vicious dictatorship because they don’t think much about it either way, and/or they buy into the media view of it as a kind of “Communist-lite” country.

        I brought up Trump because of the tax parallels, not to drag US politics into it gratuitously. Though if I wanted to bring him up, that’s my right and my business because a Comment is my space and mine was within the rules of this particular private website.

        As for “liberal feminism,” why are you “dragging” that in here? It’s really hard to tell what you’re about except that “liberal” is being used as an insult. I guess ‘feminism’ too. Whatever.

        Every rich person who evades paying taxes (though illegal tax fraud, not legal tax avoidance) should be held to account. What we’re talking about here is China’s selective use of prison, disappearance and possible torture for a very well known person, a celebrity, to punish tax evasion and made an example of her — versus the United States allowing its wealthy celebrities and other wealthy people the means to evade taxes for decades and rewarding some of them with the highest offices in the land. Allowing them to crow about how “smart” they are to avoid paying their fair share, and applauding them for it. The IRS enforcement division has been cut to the point where today’s ever-richer-rich can exploit the tax system even more robustly, depriving Americans of needed services. Schools. Roads. Health care. The middle class continue to pay and pay and pay though, and not get back what they put in: Social Security, Medicare … they’ll be on the chopping block because of government-sponsored tax evasion. I don’t see how this is some kind of crackpot liberal feminist viewpoint, when it’s a matter of fact. Taxation without representation, baby … we got it going on.

      • Someone says:

        The Chinese government itself steals from people. Most of the economy is controlled by 50 families- descendants of maos cabinet. They own directly or indirectly almost all companies, including most likely Ali baba. Ykh think they don’t steal from public?
        They just don’t want anyone to be so famous that they can be alternate source of power or inspiration to the communist government.

  4. Kittycat says:

    She is so lucky

    Hopefully this is a lesson to everyone else

    • 2bounce4u says:

      Most celebrities in China do this. It is an open secret. As long as famous people support communist party they leave them to do whatever they want. I think she infuriated one of the high ups there for them to go after her like that.

  5. Murphy says:

    Same thing happened to Zhang Ziyi.

  6. Amelie says:

    It’s possible she participated in tax evasion and may owe millions of dollars but at least in the US, people don’t just mysteriously disappear if they are suspected of tax evasion. There is a legal process in place that obviously isn’t always followed but people don’t just go missing. The IRS doesn’t send its minions to kidnap you to an undisclosed location. That’s the part that is so bizarre. I’m wondering if they let her go because people started to notice her absence and started making noise about it. I really don’t think she would have been released had the media not made a stink about it.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      The US is a whisker away from re-establishing a system of debtors’ prisons. But regardless, it’s not bizarre by China standards, but they were probably shamed in the end by the prominence of her disappearance into allowing her “release.”

      • A says:

        You’re honestly vastly overestimating the influence that Western countries have on China’s domestic affairs. The idea that they’re gonna take the opinion of an external third party like Hollywood (who have their own vested, economic interest in Fan Bingbing actually picking up their phone calls and responding to their emails, given her work commitments), let alone be shamed by them, is honestly pretty far from the truth.

        Her disappearance was intended to be prominent. People were supposed to take notice that she was gone. This was meant to be a warning to every other rich person in China. There’s a great deal of domestic politics involved where the government in China has pledged to clean up corruption in the country, and this whole stunt gives them a way to say, “See? We DID do something. Look at how effective our program is!”

        I don’t think people need to know the gritty details of another country’s internal politics here, but even a cursory understanding of what’s happening in China would have been enough to provide context for this story. I know people in the US are preoccupied with their own political situation, but like…come on you guys.

    • jwoolman says:

      No, here in the US our government just whisks away children of asylum seekers to parts unknown and won’t tell us where they stashed them….

      I’m also sure that the contingency plans designed by Oliver North under President Reagan have been dusted off and are being quietly followed today. In case of massive protests against military action in Central America, martial law was planned and detention camps would be set up on various government properties such as military bases. Don’t count on the usual legal protections to be followed.

      My theory at the time was that all the government needed to do to get people to accept martial law would be to run loads of current movies for free on broadcast and cable tv… I remember how hard people worked back then to make public the illegal activity of the US government and how little impact it had again and again. And we do have the right laws and a Constitution and Bill of Rights that should make it easier.

      Don’t ever underestimate the ability of any government in any culture to do bad things. Certain people in power want to stay in power, and they will do whatever their own people allow. China has a long history of absolute rulers and will have to find its own way in this, just as we must do. But the Chinese people are not helpless. Every government can only rule with the consent of the governed, because we vastly outnumber the people in government. But people have to realize they have that power and be willing to take risks to exercise it. That is a challenge everywhere. People are often so focused on their own lives and legitimately afraid of losing what they have that they put up with bad government too easily. Just don’t assume that it can’t also happen here. It can, and it does.

      I wish I could say that it is only a matter of having easy ways to communicate with others so bad actions surface to public view, but look at all the trouble we are having here. The information is out in the open but the one powerful tool for controlling bad government (voting) is contaminated. We don’t know if our votes will be counted properly on November 2018, but we do know vote shifting and voter suppression tactics have been going on for a long time. Reports of vote shifting using the vulnerable machines goes back to 2004. Don’t count on a blue wave – the Democrats have to win so big that they outrun the hackers. That’s quite different from simply getting a majority of votes. The technology is more advanced and a hostile foreign government is involved and welcomed by the Trump Administration.

      Disinformation campaigns are very effective here, which is why the Russians have conducted them. Free access to communication tools today seems to just make it easier for lies to be spread more quickly. And too many people just don’t care — 47% of registered voters didn’t vote in 2016. As long as their own ox isn’t gored, they’re ok.

      China seems to be in the Robber Baron phase of capitalism to me. Good luck to them… But getting people to actually feel as though they can affect their government is difficult here, and we at least give lip service to being a free country and a democracy. China’s history is very different, so their path is quite different. But don’t underestimate the real power people do have and the real problem everywhere of compliance with evil.

  7. Rapunzel says:

    Is her career really over? I get that she’s going to be broke but can’t she still act ? And get beauty contracts ? She’s so gorgeous . Especially in that pic with the red dress .

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      The Chinese government will likely repair its image by allowing her to act, but her financial affairs will be under constant scrutiny and she will be paying those taxes going forward.

    • Eliza says:

      Supposedly she was put on a 3 year ban from acting. Not sure if true. But 3 year hiatus at the peak of your acting career would be harder to make come back.

      • maybe says:

        I think it will help her. It will be like her first comeback.

      • Holly hobby says:

        I think that happened to Liu Xiaoqing https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liu_Xiaoqing

        She was a big star during her heyday but got nailed for tax evasions. She ended up in jail and did come back in the industry.

        However based on the stories I read from the Chinese press, fan’s case isn’t that simple. As the other poster said, she was collateral damage.

    • BearcatLawyer says:

      The Chinese government recently released a report ranking celebrities’ “social credit,” basically how good they are as Communist role models. Fan Bingbing was ranked dead last with a score of zero.

      She may act again in the future, but the government will ensure she does not have the same degree of influence she had before this scandal. I suspect they will also limit her overseas travel and ability to act in foreign films too. And few brands will be willing to use her as a spokesperson lest it jeopardize their ability to sell or produce in China.

      So as much as we would like to believe in comeback stories, this is not Hollywood. Her story likely will not end in a happily ever after.

  8. Div says:

    So I read that she was likely guilty of tax evasion, as many of the big celebrities are in China, but that she also might have pissed off a corrupt, big party official via an affair gone bad. I feel like that’s probably the truth, that they wanted to make an example out of someone but they decided on her, of all people, because she pissed off the wrong power broker. So she probably did the crime, but there might be some old fashioned misogyny/getting back at an ex-lover sprinkled in.

  9. gingersnaps says:

    I’m glad that she has resurfaced. I hope she’s able to get out of China but think that it is unlikely. I don’t know if people have heard about China’s massive network of cctv’s tied up to its real time social credit system which is straight out of a Person of Interest episode, its communist government will always severely punish its people who go against them be it the party or the system.

    • A says:

      The extent of the surveillance described here, while it exists in China, only exists in certain parts of the country where there’s a significant percentage of ethnic minorities. The distinction is important to get right.

      I know that most news about China that people consume out west is often filtered and sometimes skewed, but some of the things in this thread are bordering on sensationalism, ngl.

      • gingersnaps says:

        I’m half Chinese, my grandfather fled China when he could decades ago to escape the regime. He never set foot again there even to claim his inheritance. Never really talk to us about it as well even though I knew he was proud of his heritage as he still followed his traditions. It’s a beautiful country but I will never trust the Chinese government.

      • Someone says:

        Argh and that makes it ok because those Darned Uighur and Tibetans, Lesser than Chinese right? How dare they ask for freedom to follow their religion and not have their culture and lands be forcibly occupied by Han Chinese. Why are you so condescending towards the ethnic minorities??

      • Sebhai says:

        @someone

        You being sarcastic right?

  10. Hrefna says:

    I will believe she has been released when we see some independent evidence. I don’t think the Chinese government expected there to be a sustained international outcry about Fan Bingbing’s disappearance, and it’s clear that this supposed release and confession from her is an attempt to quell it. And you know, for all that the Chinese government says she has been in a holiday resort, you do understand that she was most likely tortured while she was there? China executes people for economic crimes and financial corruption, and it’s clear that the government is making an example of Fan Bingbing to send a message to the wider Chinese public. As someone said above, this is not a Martha Stewart situation, Bingbing is in a lot of danger.

  11. Catherine says:

    China is a communist country. Full stop. This situation only seems bizarre to us because we view it through the lense of our democracy.

    That push at Cann, with Jessica Chastain, for international feminist cast? Was likely the trigger for Fan Bingbing’s incarceration

    • A says:

      China being communist has very little to do with tax evasion? Or are you somehow suggesting that America doesn’t put people away if they don’t pay their taxes? Charlie Sheen IS American right?

      • Ninafarewell says:

        Catherine is right, and the fact that China is an authoritarian communist state is relevant to this discussion (no kidding). In America, there’s a little thing called “due process” before people get incarcerated for tax evasion. In China, murky situations like the one above with Fan BingBing are commonplace.

        It is obvious that most of the people commenting on this website are Americans who have no clue about any other country in the world but their own.

      • jwoolman says:

        Didn’t the very famous Wesley Snipes get several years in prison for violating tax laws? Our government does make examples of prominent people periodically, to discourage others from tax fraud and tax evasion.

        We just operate in a different culture with different levels of public acceptance for certain government actions. It’s certainly much easier to imprison someone who is not white here, for example, even if the same crime is involved. So law breaking has consequences that do vary according to ethnicity and income level. And sometimes “making an example out of someone” is also a key point.

        In China, I would look more closely at rumblings from regular folk about her disappearance first before assuming that foreign reactions made a big difference. Our own US government seems mostly oblivious to foreign opinions, at least. What they care about anywhere is anything that could jeopardize their own power domestically.

        I remember back in the days of the USSR, a Soviet citizen pointed out that the most troubling reaction to their version of our Vietnam War (their war in Afghanistan) was the fact that people weren’t openly supporting the war. She said that the people spoke loudly with their silence. Eventually they weren’t so silent but they didn’t do the massive public protests common here – instead, they started asking government officials why their sons were being sent off to fight in that godforsaken war.

        The Soviet government also had some fears at the ballot box, since the Soviet Constitution had two aspects that eventually made fairly peaceful change possible: 1) voters were actually voting yes or no to the Party candidate, when the no votes prevailed, the government had to try again and come up with an acceptable candidate; and 2) a certain quorum of voters was needed so if people boycotted an election, it had serious impact and the election had to be run again. Both these tactics were used successfully to force real changes in both the USSR and countries within their orbit who had similar voting provisions, once enough people wanted change.

        The Soviet government also paid attention to the samizdat (self-published newsletters passed around widely) to see what people were saying and thinking. At the time, I felt that between the samizdat and all the shortwave radios, Soviet citizens were actually more aware of non-mainstream and foreign views than typical Americans, despite open publishing of dissident views here.

        Anyway – this lack of public support and private questioning was really a danger sign to the Soviet government because it was so unusual. The Soviets still referred to World War II as The Great Patriotic War and had pretty universal support for it. Of course that was clearly a war of defense for them – so many cities in the Western part look very modern now because they were destroyed by the German invasion, while towns and villages just vanished into the rubble. They seriously lost a generation of young men. It was very common for children of that era to have lost a father in the war. But domestic concerns stimulated withdrawal from Afghanistan, just as our government’s withdrawal from Vietnam was based on domestic reactions rather than foreign opinion. By the end of the Vietnam War, half the draftees were not showing up for induction and of course public protests were escalating.

        So something similar may be going on in China on various issues. Different culture, so different approach, but they may very well be responding to domestic public opinion in their own way.

  12. A says:

    They’re basically making an example of her. She’s a prominent figure in both China and abroad. There’s a big effort underway with the government in China right now to eliminate corruption (the effectiveness of this effort is, er, pending assessment), and I think nabbing her for it so publicly was a big coup for them. It also gives them an example to point to of how they’re getting results, and the public apology on her behalf is another way for them to talk about while they’re getting stricter about corruption, they’re not entirely heartless as long as people comply by the rules. Plus, this sends a public message to other figures of her ilk in China–don’t f*ck it up, or you could be held accountable just like her.

    She’s not the first nor the last person to commit tax evasion in China. I doubt we’ll hear much about any other high profile cases, because it’ll likely involve people who we have never heard about outside of China. It’s also likely that people like her will just get smarter and cleverer about how they’re hiding their money so that the government can’t tax them for it. But it’s also kind of funny to me that the whole thing about “death and income tax” holds true literally everywhere in the world.

  13. Amelie says:

    Hmmmm and it now seems the head of Interpol who is Chinese went missing after he went to China on a trip. His wife reported it to Interpol HQ in France. I understand people going missing in China may be considered “typical” but that’s quite a few high profile people lately.

  14. Economic ninja says:

    China is not a communist country (hasn’t been for decades) ; it’s an authoritarian capitalistic nation. They are mainly market based when it comes to the allocation of resources, with the potential for extreme state intervention when needed. Assuming capitalism = democracy and individual rights is a common error. Capitalism actually works very well with dictatorships.

    Also, if fan tried to leave, China could do another extraordinary rendition like they did with the hk journalist who wrote negatively about Xi. He had a Swiss passport and that didn’t stop them.

    • jwoolman says:

      Yeah, I figure China is in the Robber Baron phase of capitalism with more government supervision than we had. We seem to be heading toward the Robber Baron phase again ourselves.