There is growing speculation that China’s highest-paid movie star Fan Bingbing, who has not been seen for months, may have been detained for tax fraud.
Fan, 36, has been a household name in China for years and broke into Hollywood with a role in the 2014 blockbuster X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Last year, she topped Forbes magazine’s list of top-earning Chinese celebrities with income of 300 million yuan (£33.5m). But she has gone quiet in recent months, following allegations of tax evasion.
Beijing Normal University has placed Fan last in an academic report ranking A-list celebrities on their social responsibility. Published earlier this month, 100 Chinese stars including popular actor Jackie Chan and award-winning actress Zhang Ziyi were ranked according to their professional work, charity work and personal integrity.
But with more than 60% needed for a pass, only nine celebrities made the cut, with Chinese actor Xu Zheng topping the list at 78%. Fan scored zero.
The report’s authors said they studied the celebrities’ behavior to assess the extent of their social responsibility but did not elaborate on how they arrived at the results, saying that the findings were based on “research and web-scraping”.
The actress has not been seen since July
One user wrote on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter: “What kind of a report is this? Fan has done so much good work in the past!”There has been speculation about Fan’s whereabouts since reports emerged that she had taken “under the table” payments.
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Cui Yongyuan, a former presenter for state-run China Central Television (CCTV), posted purported contracts online in May that suggest she had received the payments. A statement released by Fan’s studio said she was the victim of “slander” but did not dispute the authenticity of the documents.
So-called yin and yang dual contract arrangements – with one contract for income declared to tax authorities and another kept secret – are reportedly used to evade taxes. After the documents posted by Cui went viral, the state tax administration reportedly started investigating alleged use of such dual contracts in the entertainment industry in eastern Jiangsu province.
Fan was not mentioned by name but she has businesses registered in Jiangsu. State news agency Xinhua reported in June that the government and the film and broadcast regulator would crack down on excessive pay and tax evasion in entertainment.
Last month, nearly a dozen major Chinese film producers and video sites announced they also would boycott “unreasonable” pay for actors.
Fan is one of five leading international actresses cast in the upcoming Hollywood spy thriller 355, also starring Jessica Chastain and Penelope Cruz.