Chinese actor Deng Lun is the latest high-profile target in China’s crackdown on the entertainment industry, following a slew of big Chinese stars like Zheng Shuang, Kris Wu and Zhao Wei who fell from grace for alleged personal and financial misconduct last year.
The popular actor, and the face of a handful of luxury brands, including Bulgari, Roger Vivier and L’Oréal Paris, paid 106 million renminbi, or $16.6 million, including collected taxes, late fees and fines for tax evasion between 2019 and 2020.
Tax authorities in Shanghai said he evaded personal income tax of 47,658,200 renminbi, or $7.5 million, and other underpaid personal income tax of 13,993,200 renminbi, or $2.19 million, by falsely declaring the nature of income through fictitious business conversion during the period.
The actor apologized on Weibo shortly after local media broke the news.
“I accept all decisions of the tax authorities. I am willing to assume all responsibilities and consequences and continue to work hard as always. I am deeply sorry for taking up public resources during the pandemic,” he said.
His social media presence across all platforms was erased around 5:45 p.m. local time.
L’Oréal cut ties with Deng immediately after.
Deng began his career in 2012 playing the lead in the Chiung Yao romantic TV drama, “Flowers in Fog.” From there, he starred in several acclaimed roles in big productions such as “White Deer Plain,” “Ode to Joy 2” and “Ashes of Love.”
He was nominated for best actor in the period drama category for his performance in “Ashes of Love” at the Huading Awards. With more than 40 million followers on Weibo, he also won the Popular Artist of the Year award at the Sina Weibo Night Awards in 2019.
He is a regular cover star for all the major Chinese fashion magazines. Deng has also served as the face of Ralph Lauren, Bally, Adidas, Biotherm, Acqua Panna, Corona and Quaker Oats Company for the Chinese market, as well as working closely with brands like Zegna and Gucci on certain projects.
Since China’s crackdown on the showbiz sector, luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Prada have adjusted their strategies in China by appointing top athletes like Eileen Gu and Ma Long, who are considered safer choices under the current climate, as local ambassadors.