Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing has been spotted in public for the first time since her disappearance more than three months ago amid a massive tax scandal.
The 37-year-old actress, dressed in black attire and wearing a cap and dark glasses, was seen walking swiftly to a waiting car at the Beijing Capital International Airport on Monday night.
Fan has been embroiled in a tax evasion investigation that rocked the nation. Tax authorities had ordered the actress to pay 883 million yuan (£97 million) in back taxes and fines in early October.
Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing was seen at Beijing Capital International Airport on Monday
Fan has been embroiled in a tax evasion investigation that rocked the nation
In the series of pictures, an assistant was even seen holding up a large black umbrella to shield against the prying eyes of the paparazzi.
The actress, model and producer had been a ubiquitous household name in China for years and tasted Hollywood success with a role in the 2014 blockbuster ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past.’
But she disappeared from the public eye and her once active social media presence went silent in May after allegations emerged that she had evaded taxes on a lucrative movie shoot, charges her studio called ‘slander’.
A former presenter for state-run China Central Television (CCTV) posted a purported contract for Fan’s work on the movie Air Strike, starring Bruce Willis and produced by Mel Gibson.
The photos suggested that she was officially paid 10 million yuan (£1 million) for a project while unofficially receiving an additional 50 million yuan (£5.5 million) – all for four days of work.
In the series of pictures, an assistant was even seen holding up a large black umbrella to shield Fan against the prying eyes of the paparazzi. She got on a waiting car and left the airport
The 37-year-old actress was previously the highest paid Chinese actress following her role in X-Men (pictured)
So-called ‘yin and yang’ dual contract arrangements – with one contract for income declared to tax authorities while the other is kept secret – are reported to be used in China to evade taxes.
Fan’s sudden absence from screens and advertisements across the country spurred rumors that she had been snatched by officials at a time when Beijing is cracking down on what it views as excesses in the film and television industry.
The actress finally broke her months-long silence on Weibo on October 3 to acknowledge her wrongs, beg for her supporters’ forgiveness, and apologise to ‘society, the friends who care about me, the public and the national tax authorities.’
‘Without the Party and country’s good policies, without the loving attention of the masses, there would be no Fan Bingbing,’ she wrote to her 62 million followers.
She added: ‘I’ve been suffering unprecedented pain recently. I’m so ashamed of what I’ve done. Here, I sincerely apologise to everyone.
Last year, Fan Bingbing topped Forbes magazine’s list of top-earning Chinese celebrities with income of 300 million yuan (£33 million)
‘I completely accept all the penalty decisions made according to law, after the investigation done by tax authorities. I will follow the order, try my best to overcome difficulties, raise fund, pay taxes and fines.’
While some net users felt the penalty for Fan’s offences was not heavy enough, her die-hard fans stood by her side.
On October 8, Fan posted a message on a ‘super topic’ – equivalent to a fan page on Weibo – to address her fans. The actress wrote: ‘I feel your hearts and minds! I miss you!’
Because she was a first-time offender, the government said there would be no criminal charges filed. But some tax officials probing her case were punished for ‘poor management’.
At least five people have been disciplined, including the head of the taxation bureau in the eastern city of Wuxi, where Fan’s company is based, Xinhua previously reported.
Who are the highest paid actors and actresses in China?
Chinese actress Fan Bingbing and singer and actor Lu Han are among the highest paid celebrities in China, according to Forbes
Here are the top five highest paid celebrities in China last year, according to Forbes China. The list also takes into account their popularity, commercial value and media exposure.
1. Fan Bingbing (范冰冰), actress, 300 million yuan (£33 million)
2. Lu Han (鹿晗), actor and singer, 210 million yuan (£23 million)
3. Yang Mi (杨幂), actress, 200 million yuan (£22 million)
4. Zhao Liying (赵丽颖), actress, 190 million yuan (£21 million)
5. Yang Yang (杨洋), actor, 240 million yuan (£27 million)