Colombian star Shakira faces eight years in prison. Accused of having subtracted 14.5 million euros from the Spanish tax authorities between 2012 and 2014, the singer will be tried for tax evasion, the Spanish judicial authorities announced on Tuesday. The date of this trial, which will be held before the Barcelona Provincial Court, has yet to be set.
Claiming her innocence, Shakira, 45, had let it be known at the end of July that she refused to seal an agreement with the prosecution, saying she preferred the holding of a trial to this guilty plea procedure. The prosecution had indicated a few days later that it would request a sentence of more than eight years in prison and a fine of nearly 24 million euros against the singer.
Tax residency in the Bahamas Islands
According to the prosecution, Shakira had been living in Spain since 2011, when her relationship with FC Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique was made public, but had maintained her tax residence in the Bahamas Islands, considered a tax haven, until 2015. The couple, who have two children, announced their separation in June.
Shakira’s defense claims that until 2014, her income came mainly from her international tours or her participation in the show The Voice in the United States and that she did not live more than six months a year in Spain, a requirement to establish tax residency in the country. The star further claimed that she had already paid 17.2 million euros to the Spanish tax authorities and therefore no longer had any debt towards him.
“I don’t owe anything”
“These accusations are false,” Shakira hammered in an interview published last week by the magazine. SHE, ensuring that she was between 2012 and 2014 on tour most of the time and therefore could not be considered a tax resident in Spain. “The tax authorities saw that I was in a relationship with a Spanish citizen and started to salivate. It is clear that they wanted this money without worrying about how they were going to do it,” she added. “I don’t owe anything” to the taxman “and I’m sure I have enough evidence to support my case and ensure that justice rules in my favor”, said the singer, for whom going to trial “is a matter of principle”.
In May, a Barcelona court rejected an appeal by the singer, ruling that “the documentation provided to prove that the tax residence was in another country did not (seem) to be sufficient”. Shakira’s name is also among those cited in the Pandora Papers, a vast investigation published at the end of 2021 by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, accusing several hundred personalities of having concealed assets in offshore companies, in particular from tax evasion purposes.
Mixing Latin sounds, African rhythms and rock influences, the Colombian has become one of the most listened to Latin American singers in the world, with titles such as Hips don’t lie, Whenever, Wherever or WakaWaka, the official anthem of the 2010 World Cup. It won three Grammy Awards. In his interview at SHEthe pop star assured that she is currently going through “the most difficult and darkest hours of (her) life” due to her legal troubles, her separation and her father’s health concerns.
Besides Shakira, many personalities, especially footballers, have been in trouble with the Spanish tax authorities in recent years. Cristiano Ronaldo, for example, was sentenced in early 2019 to a two-year prison sentence, which he did not have to serve because his criminal record was clean. Between penalties and reimbursement of the amount of tax evasion, the case cost the former Real Madrid star 18.8 million euros. Former Barça star Lionel Messi was sentenced in 2016 to a fine of 2 million euros and a 21-month prison sentence, commuted to an additional fine of 252,000 euros.