November 20, 2023

Shakira reaches $15.7m deal to settle Spain tax fraud case


Colombian singer Shakira (middle) leaves the High Court of Justice of Catalonia after attending her trial on tax fraud, in Barcelona Today, Monday. PHOTO: Josep LAGO / AFP.

Colombian superstar Shakira will pay millions of euros in fines as part of a settlement announced Monday with Spanish prosecutors. This is to settle her tax fraud case and avoid trial.

Under the deal, Shakira agreed to receive a three-year suspended sentence and to pay 7.3 million euros ($7.98 million). The deal was announced at the start of what would have been the trial of the 46-year-old singer.

Prosecutors had accused the superstar of defrauding the Spanish state of 14.5 million euros ($15.7 million) on income earned between 2012 and 2014. Shakira denied the charges, saying she only moved to Spain full-time in 2015.

The singer, who wore a pink suit and sunglasses, did not speak to the throng of reporters as she entered and left the Barcelona courthouse. But in a statement, she said she had agreed to settle for the sake of her two sons, Milan and Sasha.

“I need to move past the stress and emotional toll of the last several years and focus on the things I love. They are my kids and all the opportunities to come in my career. There is also my upcoming world tour and my new album,” she said in the statement issued by her lawyers.

“I admire tremendously those who have fought these injustices to the end. But for me, today, winning is getting my time back for my kids and my career.”

The case

The case centred on how much time the singer spent in Spain between 2012 and 2014. Her hit singles include “Whenever, Wherever” and the 2010 World Cup song “Waka Waka”.

Spanish authorities alleged Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll — dubbed the Queen of Latin Pop — spent more than half of that period in Spain and, therefore, should have paid taxes in the country.

They say she moved to Spain after her relationship with former FC Barcelona star defender Gerard Pique became public in 2011. But that she maintained official tax residency in the Bahamas until 2015.

Shakira’s lawyers argued that until 2014, she was leading a “nomadic life” and earned most of her money from international tours. And that she moved permanently to Barcelona just before the birth of her second son in January 2015.

The diva announced her split from Pique in June 2022 after a decade-long relationship. It ended what had been one of the world’s most famous celebrity couples. She then moved to Miami in April with their two sons, Milan and Sasha.

Her trial had been expected to run until December 14, with the court scheduled to hear from nearly 120 witnesses.

Spanish prosecutors had interviewed her neighbours, tracked her images on social networks and checked payments at hairdressers. They even the health clinic she attended during her pregnancy to bolster their accusations.

Questions about Shakira’s finances have been raised before.

The Latina superstar was named in one of the largest-ever leaks of financial documents in October 2021. It is known as the “Pandora Papers”. It revealed the wealth and tax avoidance strategies of the global rich, in her case relating to residence in the Bahamas.

Latin Grammy winner

Spain has in recent years cracked down on celebrities like football stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo over taxes.

Both players were found guilty of evasion and received prison sentences that were waived for first-time offenders.

Shakira’s former partner Pique was convicted of tax fraud in 2016 and later ordered to pay the tax office 2.1 million euros.

The singer picked up three awards at the Latin Grammy Awards in Seville in southern Spain on Thursday. The awards include for song of the year and best pop song for her collaboration with Argentine DJ Bizarrap on “Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53”.

The track takes swipes at her former partner Pique and references being left with a “debt to the tax office”.

It has been played almost 1.5 billion times on Spotify and YouTube.

Vanguard News