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Black Friday for entertainment industry
( 2003-12-12 23:30) (China Daily)

The first tax-evasion hearing involving the media company owned by movie star Liu Xiaoqing, 52, was held on Friday at the Beijing Chaoyang District People's Court, marking one of a series of similar cases to hit the entertainment industry.

Actress-turned-tycoon  Liu Xiaoqing. [newsphoto.com.cn/file]
Meanwhile, Zhao An, 44, a former entertainment programme producer with China Central Television (CCTV), was sentenced to 10 years in jail for taking bribes, the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court decided on Friday.

Zhang Junyi, a famous song writer who bribed Zhao, was sentenced to prison for six years during the same court session. He was also convicted for defaming Chinese officials -- including top officials of CCTV -- in anonymous letters written in 2001 and 2002.

Investigators proved that Zhao accepted 110,000 yuan (US$13,000) in cash and 500,000 yuan (US$60,000) worth of audio and video equipment from Zhang -- whose work was repeatedly staged on Spring Festival evening galas and other entertainment programmes Zhao directed or was in charge of between 1994 and 2000.

With bribes, Zhang even talked Zhao into airing a biographical documentary about himself on CCTV.

The Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court ruled on Friday that Zhao's 200,000 yuan (US$24,000) of personal property were to be confiscated.

Yang Xueni, a 25-year-old woman from Zhejiang Province, was sentenced to three years for collaborating with Zhang.

Zhao An, 44, a former entertainment programme producer with China Central Television (CCTV). [chinadaily.com.cn/file]
In the Liu Xiaoqing-owned company tax evasion case, prosecutors for the Beijing Chaoyang District prosecutors office charged that the Beijing-based Xiaoqing Culture Art Co Ltd and its general manager, Jing Jun, were involved in 52 instances of tax evasion from 1996 to 2001. The amount of unpaid taxes allegedly added up to 8.48 million yuan (US$1.02 million).

About 40 people sat in court on the day of cross-examination. Court proceedings are expected to continue on Saturday and Sunday, said Li Xiaolin, one of the four lawyers representing the accused.

Chen Weidong, a law professor with Renmin University of China, told China Daily that although Liu Xiaoqing, acting as Xiaoqing Co's chairman of the board of directors, was not prosecuted in this case, it does not mean that she will escape legal sanctions.

Liu was freed on bail in August after being detained for 422 days as she was suspected of being involved in tax evasion.

"The case reflects some holes in China's legal system, especially the Criminal Law on punishment of institutional crime,'' Chen said.

According to Criminal Law, if a company commits a crime, the company should shoulder the responsibility of paying a fine or compensation, and criminal liability is to be undertaken by people directly related to the violation.

The law does not clearly stipulate the responsibility of legal representatives, like Liu, but the Companies Act specifies that the chairman should shoulder all of the responsiblity.

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