Director Feng Xiaogang denies tax evasion

SHANGHAI • Former TV anchor Cui Yongyuan's revelations about tax evasion have sidelined A-list actress Fan Bingbing, and the next target could well be top director Feng Xiaogang.

But Feng has mounted a counter-attack, posting on Weibo on Sunday that he did not use any dubious contracts to avoid paying taxes.

Cui had claimed in June that Fan was evading taxes, sparking talk that Feng was also doing so.

Feng wrote on Weibo that those who had cast doubts on his integrity were "not only mad, but have also reached the point of completely defying the laws".

He pointed out that he had paid tens of millions of yuan in taxes, only for his post to come under fire from Cui.

In an ominous response, he said: "The evidence of your crime is lying in my drawer, waiting for your movie Cell Phone 2 to be released."

According to the Global Times, Fan was said to have been paid US$1.56 million (S$2.1 million) for four days' work on Cell Phone 2, which is directed by Feng.

Cui claimed that there was a second contract worth US$7.8 million, with the contract with the lower sum used for tax reporting.

Fan, who has been out of the public eye since July, is now suffering a commercial fallout.

Thai duty-free company King Power on Monday said she was no longer its brand ambassador.

Australian vitamin brand Swisse has suspended the use of her image in its marketing, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Wednesday.

Luxury brands Guerlain, De Beers and Montblanc are also steering clear of Fan. According to Jing Daily, Montblanc stopped engaging with her on Weibo in late May.

De Beers has also not mentioned her online since mid-May while Guerlain did not post a Fan video that was shot recently to promote its lipstick.

Investors in Huayi Bros, the producer of Cell Phone 2, are also running scared. Its share price dived to a five-year low in June after the tax-evasion claims raised an uproar.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2018, with the headline 'Director Feng Xiaogang denies tax evasion'. Print Edition | Subscribe