Artist/activist Ai Weiwei was detained for 81 days this spring, during which time his family was not informed of his whereabouts or charges against him. Authorities later said he was being investigated for undefined “economic crimes.” Now, he has been ordered to pay 15 million RMB (US$2.6 million) in back taxes. From the Guardian:
Ai said the authorities told him the tax was owed by FAKE, the company that handled his affairs but that was legally registered by his wife.
“I am a designer for the company; I am not the legal representative, nor the manager. I never signed papers or made a deal or transferred money – I was nothing to do with the accounting. They said I was the ‘actual controlling person’ of the company,” he added.
But he is unsure how he can challenge the payment notice because police seized all the company’s documents a few days after detaining him and have not returned them, nor allowed anyone to inspect them.
He said authorities had originally told him he would have to pay 20 million yuan, but later told him they had reduced it to 15 million yuan, “because they had considered my ability to pay”.
On Twitter, Ai has refuted the order, stating that he and his company have not been shown any financial ledgers that justify the charges:
Just now, two staff members from Beijing’s tax bureau sent the 1,522,000 tax form to Caochangdi 258. Legal representative Lu Qing said that to this day they have not seen the accounting book. The penalty is completely without basis, refuses to accept.