Shakira facing fine of $23 million and 8 years in jail over unpaid Spanish taxes

July 29, 2022, 11:00 AM UTC
Shakira attending the 2022 Cannes Film Festival in a black dress.
Shakira at the Cannes Film Festival this year. The Colombian pop star is set to go to trial over accusations of tax evasion in Spain.
Christophe Simon—AFP/Getty Images

Colombian pop star Shakira is facing a lengthy jail sentence and a massive fine in Spain, where authorities have accused her of evading taxes worth €14.5 million, or around $14.8 million.

Spanish prosecutors are accusing Shakira of committing six cases of tax fraud, and recommend a sentence of eight years and two months accompanied by a hefty fine of over €23 million ($23.5 million), Spanish outlet El País reported on Friday.

The case will be handled by a court in the vicinity of Barcelona, where Shakira resides. A hearing is expected in the next few weeks, where Shakira will be called to testify.

Shakira first lost an appeal to have the case thrown out last May. And earlier this week, the singer refused a settlement deal offered by the Spanish judicial ministry that would have kept the case out of court. At the time, Shakira accused the prosecution of being “uncompromising” and of applying “improper methods” to pressure her into accepting a deal.

While a deal has yet to be struck, El País noted that an agreement could be ironed out at any point between now and the trial date, although the latest ruling indicates that Shakira will likely have to testify at a hearing regardless of new developments, even if just to endorse a deal. Shakira is said to be “determined” to see the case through to the end, sources close to the singer told El País.

The claimed fraud is reported to have occurred between 2012 and 2014, during which Spanish prosecutors allege Shakira was living in the Spanish city of Barcelona after she began a relationship with Barcelona FC player Gerard Piqué, while maintaining a fiscal residence in the Bahamas and avoiding Spanish taxes. 

The Colombian star has countered that she did not officially move to Spain until 2015, and that she had been traveling frequently during the period in question. 

The prosecution has cited records of visits to hair salons, a pregnancy clinic, and a rented recording studio in the city as evidence that Shakira was living in Barcelona.

Shakira’s lawyers are preparing their defense case for the hearing, and have said that the singer had “never resided in Spain long enough” between 2012 and 2014 to trigger tax laws, while adding that the prosecution has relied on “indirect” evidence to support their claims on Shakira’s residency.

Shakira has said that she is “fully willing to resolve any differences” with the tax agency if they are found to be legitimate, and has claimed that during the period in question she was following the financial counsel of advisers from PricewaterhouseCoopers, a London-based consulting firm specializing in tax law and financial services. The firm is not known to be involved in the court case, according to El País.

Shakira, who is arguing that she did not change her legal residence to Barcelona until 2015, is reportedly looking to leave the Catalonian city and the country anyway. After a public breakup with her partner, Piqué, last month, the singer is said to be seeking a move to the U.S.

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