Chinese TV host and producer Cui Yongyuan (崔永元) has apologized to Fan Bingbing after apparently getting her into trouble with Chinese tax authorities over a pair of lucrative and shady contracts which he now says she has nothing to do with.
Cui broke the Chinese internet last week by leaking the two contracts—one for 10 million yuan ($1.56 million) and the other for 50 million yuan ($7.8 million)—which he claimed were for Fan’s work in the upcoming Feng Xiaogang film Cell Phone 2.
The leaked contracts quickly ignited a firestorm of debate on Weibo. Cui claimed that Fan was taking in this kind of cash for just four days of work.
Meanwhile, the contracts also revealed a number of somewhat unusual demands which further drew netizens’ interest, including that the actor have access to two luxury cars and a makeup artist who needed to be paid for a full month at 80,000 yuan, as well as be given a daily food allowance of 1,500 yuan and the right to amend the script.
However, most alarming of all was that there were two contracts for apparently the same job. In China, these types of deals are called “yin and yang contracts” (阴阳合同) and are meant to help stars avoid regulatory rules and taxes. Cui was accusing Fan of not only being a bad, overpaid actress, but a criminal one as well.
But, late on Sunday night, this saga took a sudden turn when Cui said in an interview that Fan actually had nothing to do with the two contracts and apologized to the actress. When asked, Cui said that the contracts had not gone to a single individual, but a “gang,” adding that Fan was in no way involved.
This apology happens to come a bit late, however. Earlier that day, China’s tax administration announced that it was opening up an investigation into these “yin and yan contracts.” While the administration failed to mention Fan Bingbing (or any other celeb) by name in its order, it did instruct the Jiangsu provincial office to begin investigating—Fan’s studio is based in Jiangsu. According to the state-run Global Times, the tax bureau office in the Jiangsu city of Wuxi has launched an investigation into the studio.
Fan’s studio has denied all reports that she ever signed separate contracts for one job. The studio has also said that it considering pursuing legal action against Cui for damaging their client’s reputation and infringing upon her rights.
Meanwhile, news of the crackdown has caused stocks to plunge for Chinese film studios and movie producers, reports the South China Morning Post.
Fan Bingbing has been China’s highest-paid celebrity for the past four years, according to Forbes, taking in 300 million yuan($46.8 million) last year. The 36-year-old actress’ first breakout film role came in the original Cell Phone back in 2003. She has since gone on to act in Hollywood blockbusters like X-Men: Days of Future Past.