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Shakira reaches a deal with Spanish prosecutors on first day of tax fraud trial

Shakira reaches a deal with Spanish prosecutors on the first day of tax fraud trial - Barcelona - 20 Nov 2023
Shakira reaches a deal with Spanish prosecutors on the first day of tax fraud trial - Barcelona - 20 Nov 2023 Copyright Joan Mateu Parra/AP
Copyright Joan Mateu Parra/AP
By Euronews with AP
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Under the deal, Shakira is to receive a suspended three-year sentence and a fine of €7 million.

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Global pop star Shakira has been summoned today to a Barcelona courthouse to attend the first day of her trial for allegedly defrauding Spanish tax officials of millions of euros. And it was over after just eight minutes. 

Shakira agreed to a deal with Spanish authorities on the first day, avoiding the risk of a prison sentence. She told the presiding magistrate, José Manuel del Amo, that she accepted the agreement reached with prosecutors. 

She answered “yes” to confirm her acknowledgement of six counts of failing to pay the Spanish government €14.5 million in taxes between 2012 and 2014.

Under the deal, Shakira is to receive a suspended three-year sentence and a fine of €7 million.

The trial, which would have included more than 100 witnesses over the following weeks, was instead called off after just eight minutes.

Prosecutors said in July that they would seek a prison sentence of eight years and two months and a fine of €24 million for the singer, who has won over fans worldwide for her hits in Spanish and English in different musical genres.

The case hinges on where Shakira, now 46, lived during that period. Prosecutors in Barcelona have alleged that the Colombian singer spent more than half of that period in Spain and therefore should have paid taxes on her worldwide income in the country even though her official residence was still in the Bahamas. Tax rates are much lower in the Bahamas than in Spain.

Shakira’s public relations firm said she had already paid all that she owed and an additional €3 million in interest.

The multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy winner waved and blew a kiss to a small crowd of bystanders before entering the courthouse.

Colombian performer Shakira, center, arrives at court in Barcelona, Spain - Monday 20 November 2023
Colombian performer Shakira, center, arrives at court in Barcelona, Spain - Monday 20 November 2023Emilio Morenatti/AP

Shakira turned down a deal offered to her by prosecutors to settle her case in July 2022, saying, via her Spanish public relations firm Llorente y Cuenca, that she “believes in her innocence and chooses to leave the issue in the hands of the law.” The details of that potential deal were not made public.

Shakira was named in the “Paradise Papers” leaks that detailed the offshore tax arrangements of numerous high-profile individuals, including musical celebrities such as Madonna and U2’s Bono.

The defense team for Shakira, the Barcelona firm Molins Defensa Penal, said in November 2022 that she had not spent more than 60 days a year inside the country during the period in question, adding she would have needed to have spent half the year in Spain to be considered a fiscal resident. Her defense argued that she was away from Barcelona for long stretches on a world tour in 2011 and then spent a lot of time in the United States as part of a jury for the NBC television music talent show The Voice.

Spanish prosecutors disagreed, and the investigating judge, Marco Juberías, wrote in 2021 on the conclusion of a three-year probe into the charges that he found there existed “sufficient evidence of criminality” for the case to go to trial. Shakira defended her innocence when she was questioned by Juberías in 2019.

She lost an appeal to have the case thrown out last year.

Shakira established her fiscal residency in Spain in 2014 at the same time her oldest child was enrolled in school in Barcelona, according to her defense team, as she was going to spend more time in the country with her family.

In Spain, an investigative judge carries out an initial probe and decides either to throw the case out or send it to trial. A court can waive prison time for first-time offenders if they are sentenced to less than two years behind bars.

In a separate investigation, Spanish state prosecutors charged Shakira in September with alleged evasion of €6.7 million in tax on her 2018 income. They accused her of using an offshore company based in a tax haven to avoid paying the tax.

Spain has cracked down on soccer stars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo over the past decade for not paying their full taxes. The former Barcelona and Real Madrid stars were found guilty of evasion but both avoided prison time after their sentences were suspended.

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