Shakira reaches a deal with Spanish prosecutors on the first day of tax fraud trial
After having maintained her innocence for nearly five years, pop star Shakira struck a last-minute deal to avoid the risk of going to prison on the opening day of her tax fraud trial in Barcelona on Monday.
Shakira 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 euros (about $15.8 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 euros ($7.6 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 euros ($26 million) for the singer, who has won over fans worldwide for her hits in Spanish and English in different musical genres.
Shakira said in a statement provided by her public relations firm that she had wanted to fight on but put her family, career and peace of mind first.
The case hinged 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.
“This has been a difficult decision that took time to reach,” defense lawyer Miriam Company told reporters.
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.
Shakira’s public relations firm had previously said that she had already paid all that she owed and an additional 3 million euros (about $3.2 million) in interest.
Her defense argued that she was away from Barcelona for long stretches on a world tour in 2011. 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. He 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.
She lost an appeal to have the case thrown out last year.
In Spain, an investigative judge carries out an initial probe. And decides either to throw the case out or send it to trial.
In a separate investigation, Spanish state prosecutors charged Shakira in September. With alleged evasion of 6.7 million euros 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.
Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, has two children. Milan and Sasha, with Barcelona soccer star Gerard Piqué. The couple lived together in Barcelona before ending their 11-year relationship last year. Since then, she has resided in Miami.
After triumphing at the Latin Grammy Awards gala in Seville on Thursday. Shakira thanked her fans in Spain for “being with me in the good times and the bad.”