Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan has refuted allegations that he had advised Chinese actress Fan Bingbing to seek refuge in the United States in the wake of an ongoing tax evasion scandal.
According to Hong Kong news outlet Apple Daily, Fan - one of Chinese entertainment's most recognisable faces - appeared at a Los Angeles immigration office on Friday morning (Aug 31) to enter the United States.
The source is reportedly a Twitter user, who believes that Fan had taken Chan's advice to seek refuge in the United States to ride out what is the biggest scandal in her two decades in showbiz.
But in response, Chan's company told Chinese news site ETtoday that the actor's involvement was "nonsense".
According to the Saturday ETtoday report, sources claimed that Fan had already been "taken in", suggesting that the actress may have been arrested.
The 36-year-old actress went dark in June after veteran Chinese host Cui Yongyuan accused her of tax evasion in late May. He implied that Fan has signed what is known as "yin and yang" contracts, where she reportedly had two contracts on Cell Phone 2, a Feng Xiaogang film.
One, meant to be given to the authorities, presented her pay as 10 million yuan (S$2 million) while another, used internally between Fan and the production company presented her pay as 50 million yuan (S$10 million). In total, she was set to receive 60 million yuan but would only be taxed for 10 million yuan.
Fan, the highest paid actress in China according to Forbes, denied the claims and Cui later walked back on the allegations - but the damage had already been done.
China's State Administration of Taxation published a statement on June 3, several days after Cui's allegations, which said that it has ordered its local bureau in Jiangsu province to investigate the tax evasion issue of those working in the film industry. Though no names were cited, Fan's film studio is based in Jiangsu.
Zhejiang Talent, one of the production companies of The Legend of Ba Qing - an epic Chinese drama that stars Fan alongside Chinese actor Gavin Gao - released a company report on Wednesday, which said that the television series has yet to receive a date of release due to allegations its stars have been involved in.
Aside from Fan's tax evasion woes, Gao was charged in June with two counts of aggravated sexual assault in Australia. Fan is also a shareholder of Zhejiang Talent.
The company said if it does not eventually receive a release date and the show is dropped from release, it will fall into some 740 million yuan of bad debts.
To add fuel to the fire, Fan, a mainstay on international red carpets like the Cannes Film Festival and an avid social media user, seemingly dropped off the map. Her account on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site, has not been updated since June 2. She previously posted almost daily.
Rumours about Fan's predicament began to fly in the months since. There were reports alleging that Fan had been banned from acting for three years and barred from leaving the country.
Her fiance, Chinese actor Li Chen, has also maintained a low profile and kept mum about her current predicament.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.