Pop star Shakira pleads guilty to Spanish prosecutors on first day of tax fraud trial
Pop star Shakira agreed to a plea deal with Spanish authorities on the first day of a tax fraud trial in Barcelona on Monday, avoiding the risk of a prison sentence.
Shakira told the presiding judge, José Manuel del Amo, that she accepted the agreement reached by prosecutors. She answered “yes” to confirm that she recognizes six accounts that she paid the Spanish government €14.5 million ($24.17 million) in taxes between 2012 and 2014.
Under the agreement, Shakira is to receive a three-year suspended sentence and a fine of €7 million ($11.67 million).
The trial, which would have included more than 100 witnesses over the following weeks, was adjourned after just eight minutes.
Prosecutors said in July they would seek a prison sentence of eight years and two months and a fine of €24 million ($40 million) for the singer, who has won over fans around the world for her hits in Spanish and English in different genres of music.
The case depended on where Shakira, who is now 46, was living during that time. Prosecutors in Barcelona have said that the Colombian singer spent more than half of that time in Spain and therefore should have paid taxes on his arrival. She had a presence in the country around the world although her official residence was still in the Bahamas. Tax rates are much lower in the Bahamas than in Spain.
“This was a difficult decision that took time to reach, a difficult decision motivated by her desire to focus on raising her children and her professional career,” a lawyer said. Miriam Company’s defense told reporters. “Her legal team had prepared the trial and were sure we could prove her innocence, but the situation changed and [Shakira] he chose to accept the contract.”
The multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy winner waved and blew a kiss to a small crowd of onlookers before entering the courthouse. She sat briefly in front of the panel of judges, with teams of prosecutors on one side and the defense on the other.
Shakira rejected a deal offered to her by prosecutors to settle her case in July 2022, saying, through her Spanish public relations firm Llorente y Cuenca, that she “believes in her innocence and chose to leave the matter in the hands of the law”. The details of that agreement have not been made public.
Shakira was named in the “Paradise Papers” leaks which detailed the offshore tax arrangements of a number of celebrities, including the likes of Madonna and U2’s Bono.
Shakira’s public relations company had previously said that she had already paid everything she owed and an additional €3 million ($5 million) in interest.
Shakira’s defense team, the Barcelona company Molins Defensa Penal, said in November 2022 that she had not spent more than 60 days a year inside the country during that time, adding that she had to spend half the year in Spain. to be considered a fiscal resident. Her defense argued that she was away from Barcelona for an extended period on a world tour in 2011 and then spent a lot of time in the United States as part of a jury for an NBC television music talent show The Voice.
Spanish prosecutors disagreed, and the investigating judge, Marco Juberías, wrote in 2021 of the conclusion of a three-year investigation into the allegations that he found there was “sufficient evidence of a crime” to case to go to court. Shakira defended her innocence when questioned by Juberías in 2019.
She lost an appeal to have the case thrown out last year.
Shakira established her fiscal residency in Spain in 2014 at the same time her eldest child was enrolled in school in Barcelona, time in the country with her family.
In Spain, an investigating judge conducts an initial investigation and decides to either throw out the case or send it to trial. A court can waive prison time for first-time offenders if they are sentenced to less than two years behind bars.
In a separate investigation, Spanish state prosecutors charged Shakira in September with alleged evasion of €6.7 million ($11.17 million) in tax on her income in 2018. They dismissed her half that she used an offshore company based in a tax center to avoid the tax.
Spain has cracked down on soccer stars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo over the past decade for failing to pay their full taxes. The former Barcelona and Real Madrid stars were found guilty of kidnapping but both avoided jail time after having their sentences 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 been living in Miami.
After winning at the Latin Grammy Awards gala in Seville on Thursday, Shakira thanked her fans in Spain for “being with me in the good times and the bad”.