BARCELONA, Spain – Global pop star Shakira arrived at a Barcelona court on Monday to attend the first day of her trial for allegedly defrauding Spanish tax officials of millions of euros.
Shakira, 46, faces six charges of failing to pay the Spanish government 14.5 million euros (about $15.8 million) in taxes between 2012 and 2014. The multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy winner has denied acting wrong and said he had paid everything he owed.
The case revolves around the place where Shakira lived during that period. The Barcelona prosecutor’s office has alleged that the Colombian singer spent more than half of that period in Spain and therefore she 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.
Prosecutors said in July they would seek a prison sentence of eight years and two months and a fine of 24 million euros ($26.1 million) for the singer, who has gained fans around the world for her hits on Spanish and English in different musical genres.
Shakira’s public relations firm said she had already paid everything she owed and an additional 3 million euros (about $3.2 million) in interest.
He waved and blew a kiss to a small crowd of passersby before entering the courthouse.
Shakira rejected a deal offered by prosecutors to resolve her case in July 2022, saying, through her Spanish public relations firm Llorente y Cuenca, that she “believes in her innocence and chooses to leave the matter in the hands of the law.” “The details of that possible agreement were not made public.
A three-judge court, headed by Magistrate José Manuel del Amo, will preside over the trial.
The trial is initially scheduled to conclude on December 14.
Shakira was named in the “Paradise Papers” leaks that detailed the offshore tax deals of numerous high-profile people, including music celebrities like Madonna and U2’s Bono.
Shakira’s defense team, the Barcelona firm Molins Defensa Penal, stated in November 2022 that she had not spent more than 60 days a year inside the country during the period in question, adding that she would have needed to have spent half the year in Spain. be considered a tax resident. Her defense argued that she was away from Barcelona for long periods on a world tour in 2011 and then spent a lot of time in the United States as part of a jury on the NBC television music talent show The Voice.
Spanish prosecutors disagree, and investigating judge Marco Juberías wrote in 2021 at the conclusion of the three-year investigation into the charges that he found there was “sufficient evidence of criminality” for the case to go to trial. Shakira defended her innocence when she was interrogated by Juberías in 2019.
She lost an appeal to have the case dismissed last year.
Shakira established her tax residency in Spain in 2014, at the same time her eldest son was enrolled in school in Barcelona, according to her defense team, as she was going to spend more time in the country with her family.
In Spain, an investigating judge conducts an initial investigation and decides to dismiss the case or send it to trial. A court can waive prison sentences for first-time offenders if they are sentenced to less than two years behind bars.
In a separate investigation, Spanish prosecutors charged Shakira in September for allegedly evading €6.7 million in taxes 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 taxes in full. The former Barcelona and Real Madrid stars were found guilty of escape, but both avoided prison sentences after their sentences were suspended.
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 this Thursday at the Latin Grammy gala in Seville, Shakira thanked her fans in Spain for “being with me in the good and bad times.”