Tuesday, a Spanish judge gave the all-ahead for Shakira, a Colombian pop singer, to go on trial for tax fraud.
The artist was charged in 2018 by Spanish authorities with failing to pay 13.9 million euros ($14.5 million) in taxes on income generated between 2012 and 2014. If she is found guilty of tax evasion, prosecutors want to sentence her to eight years in prison and to pay a large fine.
The 45-year-old Shakira has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and rejected a plea agreement with the government to avoid going to trial. According to her PR firm, she has already paid off all of her debts as well as an additional 3 million euros ($2.8 million) in interest.
Shakira will be charged with six charges of tax fraud, according to the court located in Esplugues de Llobregat, a town close to Barcelona. The trial’s start time has not yet been determined.
The argument depends on Shakira’s residence between 2012 and 2014. Although her official residency was in the Bahamas, Barcelona prosecutors claim that the Grammy winner spent more than half of that time in Spain and should have paid taxes there.
“First off, I didn’t spend anything like 183 days a year at that time. I was occupied attending to my obligations as a professional all around the world. Second, even before they brought a case, I paid what they claimed I owed. Shakira said to Elle this week, “So as of today, I owe zero to them. Finally, PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the top four tax consulting firms in the world, gave me advice, giving me assurance that I was proceeding legally and transparently from the start. She mentioned how Spain has pursued other celebrities in the nation, like Cristiano Ronaldo, who entered a guilty plea for tax fraud there in 2019 and said, “It’s just their style.”
In both the Paradise Papers from 2017 and the Pandora Papers from 2021, troves of leaked data revealed the offshore dealings of the wealthy and influential, Shakira was one of the several celebrities listed. According to The Guardian, she transferred her “musical assets, intellectual property rights, and trademarks” to Tournesol Ltd in 2009, which was revealed to be her only stakeholder in the Paradise Papers. In 2017, a spokesperson for the artist informed the publication that Tournesol Ltd “fulfills all legal requirements.
Her Bahamas residence was one of many places she’s lived “throughout her professional career and, in every case, has fully met the laws of all the jurisdictions where she has resided,” according to the statement that “all of the corresponding information relative to this entity is public and transparent.”
Since she began dating soccer player Gerard Pique, Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, has been associated with Spain. The two-parent family, who formerly shared a home in Barcelona, recently called it quits after an 11-year union.
Over the past ten years, Spain has cracked down on soccer players who don’t pay their fair share of taxes, including Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite being found guilty of evasion, they were both spared prison time because of a rule that permits judges to suspend sentences for first-time offenders that are shorter than two years.