Pop Culture

Shakira settles $21M tax fraud case before trial begins

Colombian popstar Shakira has reached a settlement with Spanish authorities to avoid a trial that accused the singer of evading millions of dollars in taxes.

A judge in Barcelona read the terms of the settlement in a courtroom on Monday, the same day the trial was expected to begin.

Shakira had been accused of dodging more than 14.5 million euros (more than C$21.7 million) in taxes owed to the Spanish government. She had also been facing a potential eight-year prison sentence.

As part of her last-minute settlement, Shakira must pay a fine of about 7.3 million euros (almost C$11 million), The Associated Press reported. She must also accept a three-year suspended sentence.

Shakira arrives with her lawyer Pau Molins at the High Court of Justice of Catalonia for her trial on tax fraud, in Barcelona on Nov. 20, 2023.

PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

Prior to her settlement, Shakira, 46, had maintained her innocence for five years. By settling, Shakira has acknowledged the charges against her and has been found guilty of the tax fraud.

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The charges related to taxes owed between 2012 and 2014. Prosecutors alleged the singer spent more than half of that time living in Spain and was therefore required to pay taxes on her worldwide income, despite Spain not being her official residence.

After the settlement, Shakira gave a lengthy statement to Variety and said she’d made the decision for the sake of her children.

“Throughout my career, I have always strived to do what’s right and set a positive example for others,” she said.

Shakira added that this effort to do what is right meant she often consulted “the absolute best” experts on business and personal financial decisions, as well as taxation.

“Unfortunately, and despite these efforts, tax authorities in Spain pursued a case against me as they have against many professional athletes and other high-profile individuals, draining those people’s energy, time, and tranquility for years at a time,” she said.

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“While I was determined to defend my innocence in a trial that my lawyers were confident would have ruled in my favor, I have made the decision to finally resolve this matter with the best interest of my kids at heart who do not want to see their mom sacrifice her personal well-being in this fight.”

The Whenever, Wherever singer said the long-standing legal battle caused her “stress” and took an “emotional toll” that she will now have to work past.

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Shakira said she intends to focus on “my kids and all the opportunities to come in my career, including my upcoming world tour and my new album, both of which I am extremely excited about.”

“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,” she concluded.

This case against Shakira began in 2018, when she was officially charged. In July 2022, Shakira rejected a deal from Spanish prosecutors over claims that she wanted to maintain her innocence.

Still, Shakira’s legal troubles are not yet over. In September, she was charged with evading 6.7 million euros (more than C$10 million) in taxes on her 2018 income. She was accused of using an offshore company based in a tax haven to forgo taxation in Spain. Prosecutors also claimed the Grammy-winning singer failed to declare millions of euros from advance payments she earned for her El Dorado World Tour that same year.

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Shakira reportedly became a fiscal resident of Spain in 2014.

Though the singer’s official residence is in the Bahamas, Shakira has been linked to Spain since she started dating now-retired soccer player Gerard Pique. The couple, who have two children, lived together in Barcelona until last year, when they ended their 11-year relationship.

Shakira was named in the “Paradise Papers” leaks that detailed the offshore tax arrangements of numerous high-profile individuals, including musical celebrities such as Madonna and U2’s Bono.

Over the past decade, Spanish tax authorities have cracked down on soccer stars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for not paying their full due in taxes. Those players were found guilty of tax evasion but avoided prison time thanks to a provision that allows a judge to waive sentences under two years in length for first-time offenders.

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— with files from The Associated Press

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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