Shanghai Stock Exchange bans Chinese actress Zhao Wei from company boards for five years

  • ‘Celebrity effect’ of failed takeover bid by star and husband results in second ban
  • Film director Feng Xiaogang also denies online rumours that he evaded tax and was fined by authorities
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2018, 10:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2018, 9:56pm

Billionaire actress and investor Zhao Wei has been banned from key positions at listed companies for five years after a failed takeover attempt two years ago that “disrupted market order”, Chinese authorities said as scrutiny of celebrities’ business affairs intensified.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange said on Tuesday that Zhao and her husband Huang Youlong were unfit to serve as directors, supervisors and senior executives at any listed company, a year after regulators barred them from the securities markets for five years in the same case.

The development emerged after the lawyer of film director Feng Xiaogang denied online rumours that he evaded tax and was fined by authorities. Feng’s lawyer threatened to take legal action against those spreading rumours.

About a month ago, Fan Bingbing – another wealthy actress and a business partner of Feng – was given a bill for more than 880 million yuan (US$127 million) to cover unpaid taxes and fines after she used dual contracts to conceal her real earnings.

Actress Zhao Wei and husband face class action from investors

Zhao and her husband were penalised for a failed attempt by the company they controlled, Tibet Longwei, to buy a 29.1 per cent stake in internet and mobile company Zhejiang Wanjia in 2016.

They were found to have violated disclosure rules by talking up their intentions at a time when they lacked the resources, or support from financial institutions, to carry off the deal.

“Due to the celebrity effect, Tibet Longwei had severely misled the market and its investors. This has seriously disrupted normal market operations and order,” the exchange said on Tuesday.

Feng, who has been under intense public scrutiny since Fan’s tax evasion scandal broke in June, threatened to sue a user on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, for alleging that he had been fined by authorities.

In a lawyer’s letter published on Tuesday, the director, who is also a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the nation’s top political advisory body, said he had not been fined and the rumour was “maliciously made up”.

The allegation was made by a Weibo user named Captain Old C, who was verified by the platform as the chairman of Beijing Yintaian Investment Advisory.

The account issued a brief post on Weibo on Saturday hinting that Feng was fined 2 billion yuan. In another, it said: “I was talking about Feng Xiaogang, the director.”

The post was deleted on Tuesday and the user said they would take legal responsibility for the remarks.

Beijing has increased supervision of celebrities and the entertainment industry after the Zhao and Fan cases.

Earlier this month, the National Radio and Television Administration issued a directive against celebrity hype, fake audience rates, as well as high pay for actors.

These problems “not only push up production costs and ruin industry ecology, but also mislead the youth to chase celebrities blindly and develop wrong values such as money worship and overnight fame”, it said.