Global pop star Shakira arrived at a Barcelona court today to attend the first hearing of the pending case against her for allegedly defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of millions of euros.
Shakira, 46, faces six counts of failing to pay the Spanish government €14.5m in taxes between 2012 and 2014. The multi-Grammy and Latin Grammy winner told the presiding judge, José Manuel del Amo, that she accepted the deal reached with prosecutors . Answer “yes” to confirm recognition of the six categories.
Under the deal, Shakira will receive a three-year suspended prison sentence and a €7 million fine.
The trial, which would have included more than 100 witnesses over the coming weeks, was instead adjourned just eight minutes after it began. The trial was originally scheduled to end on December 14.
The case is about where Shakira was living at the time. Prosecutors in Barcelona claim the Colombian singer spent more than half of that time in Spain and therefore should have paid taxes on her worldwide income, even though her official residence was still in the Bahamas.
It is noted that the tax rates are much lower in the Bahamas than in Spain.
Prosecutors had said in July they would ask for a prison sentence of eight years and two months and a fine of 24 million euros for the singer, who has millions of fans worldwide for her hits in Spanish and English across different musical genres.
Shakira had initially rejected the deal offered by prosecutors to settle her case in July 2022, saying, through Spanish PR firm Llorente y Cuenca, that “she believes in her innocence and chooses to leave the matter in the hands of the law». Details of that potential deal were not made public.
Shakira was named in the “Paradise Papers” leaks detailing the offshore tax arrangements of several high-profile individuals, including music celebrities such as Madonna and U2’s Bono.
Shakira’s PR company said it has already paid everything it owed, plus an additional €3 million in interest.
Shakira’s defense team, Molins Defensa Penal of Barcelona, said in November 2022 that she had spent no more than 60 days per year in the country during the period in question, adding that she should have spent half the year in Spain for to be considered a tax resident. Her defense argued she was away for long periods from Barcelona on a world tour in 2011 and then spent a lot of time in the US as a judge on NBC’s TV music talent show The Voice.
Spanish prosecutors disagree, and the investigator, Marco Huberías, said in 2021, after completing a three-year investigation into the case, that there was “sufficient evidence of criminality” to bring him to trial. Shakira defended her innocence when examined by Huberias in 2019.
It is recalled that the appeal he filed last year to “close” the case was rejected.
Shakira established her tax residence in Spain in 2014, at the same time her eldest child enrolled in school in Barcelona, according to her defense team, as she was to spend more time in the country with her family.
In a separate investigation, Spanish state prosecutors charged Shakira in September with allegedly evading €6.7 million in taxes on her income in 2018. They accused her of using an offshore company based in a tax haven to avoid tax payment.
Spain has also “legally” targeted top footballers such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo over the past decade for failing to pay their due taxes. The former Barcelona and Real Madrid stars were found guilty of tax evasion but both avoided jail after their sentences were suspended.
Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, has two children, Milan and Sasha, with Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique. The couple lived together in Barcelona before ending their 11-year relationship last year. Since then, he resides in Miami.
After triumphing at the Latin Grammy Awards in Seville on Thursday, Shakira thanked her fans in Spain for “being with me through the good times and the bad.”
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