Fan Bingbing: Missing Chinese Actor Reappears, Apologizes for Unpaid $129 Million Tax Bill

Chinese actor Fan Bingbing says she is "ashamed and guilty" over her multimillion-dollar fine for tax evasion and other offenses.

Speculation had been mounting after Fan went missing for months amid accusations that she had signed secret movie contracts so she could pay less in taxes. She was ordered by Chinese authorities to pay 884 million yuan ($129 million) in overdue taxes and fines, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

On Thursday, she admitted on social media that she split her earnings into two contracts but declared only the lower figure to the Chinese authorities.

To her social media following of more than 65 million people, Fan, 37, said that she accepted responsibility for breaking the law and would accept the penalties. She also pledged her allegiance to the country's Communist Party. Despite her apology, her whereabouts are still unknown.

"My success owes to the support from my country and the people. Without the great policies of the [Communist] Party and the country, without the love of the people, there would be no Fan Bingbing.

"Today, I'm facing enormous fears and worries over the mistakes I made. I have failed the country, society's support and trust, and the love of my devoted fans. I offer my sincere apology here once again. I beg for everyone's forgiveness," she wrote on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, the South China Morning Post reported.

Revered in her home country, where she is the second highest paid actor behind Jackie Chan, Fan has starred in over 50 Chinese and Hollywood films, including Iron Man 3 and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

She earned 300 million yuan ($43.7 million) last year and 1.4 billion yuan ($200 million) between 2003 and 2016, according to Forbes's China Celebrity List in 2017.

The controversy was sparked when television host Cui Yongyuan posted on social media images of two contracts for a film in which Fan was involved. One showed a salary of $1.6 million, to be declared for taxes, while the second appeared to show an actual payment of $7.8 million, The New York Times reported.

Although Cui withdrew his claim and apologized, tax authorities investigated Fan's finances while she was under house arrest in a luxury holiday resort in the coastal Jiangsu province.

There has been speculation that she was held up as an example by the authorities to send a message to the wider entertainment industry and to reinforce the country's socialist principles.

Fan appears in the upcoming film Air Strike, produced by Mel Gibson. Known as Unbreakable Spirit in China, it is scheduled for worldwide release later this month.