Colombian superstar Shakira will go on trial in Barcelona on Monday in a tax fraud case, with Spanish prosecutors demanding a jail term of more than eight years for the Grammy-winning singer.
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They accuse the 46-year-old of defrauding the Spanish state of 14.5 million euros ($15.7 million) in income earned between 2012 and 2014, charges denied by the singer, who says she first moved to Spain in full time in 2015.
The case concerns how much time the singer, whose hit singles include “Hips Don’t Lie,” “Whenever, Wherever” and the 2010 World Cup song “Waka Waka,” spent in Spain between 2012 and 2014.
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The Spanish authorities claim that Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll – called the queen of Latin pop – spent more than half of this 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 maintained official tax residency in the Bahamas until 2015.
In its indictment, prosecutors allege that Shakira “used a series of companies” based in tax havens “with the intention of not paying” taxes in Spain.
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Prosecutors are demanding a prison term of eight years and two months and a fine of nearly 24 million euros ($24 million) for the singer.
Shakira’s lawyers say that until 2014 she led a “nomadic life”, earning 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.
“I’ve paid everything they claimed I owed, even before they filed a lawsuit. So as of today, I owe them zero,” the singer said in an interview published in Elle magazine in 2022.
Shakira announced her separation from Pique in June 2022 after a decade-long relationship ending what had been one of the world’s most famous celebrity couples. She moved to Miami in April with their two sons, Milan and Sasha.
Her high-profile trial is set to get underway in a Barcelona court at 10:00 (0900 GMT). It is expected to run until December 14, when the court is scheduled to hear from nearly 120 witnesses.
While the singer is expected to take a stand at the opening of the trial, she may request the court’s permission not to be present at the remaining hearings.
Details of her private life are likely to emerge during the trial as Spanish prosecutors conducted a painstaking investigation to prove their case.
They interviewed her neighbors, tracked her photos on social networks, checked payments at hairdressers and even the health clinic she visited during her pregnancy to prove their accusation.
Questions about Shakira’s finances have been raised before.
The Latina superstar was named in one of the biggest leaks of financial documents ever in October 2021, known as the “Pandora Papers”, which revealed the wealth and tax avoidance strategies of the global empires, in her case regarding residence in the Bahamas.
In recent years, Spain has cracked down on celebrities such as soccer stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for not paying their full dues in 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 himself 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, southern Spain, on Thursday, including song of the year and best pop song for her collaboration with Argentinian DJ Bizarrap on “Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53.”
The track takes a swipe at her former partner Pique and includes a reference to being left with a “debt to the tax office”. It has been played nearly 1.5 billion times on Spotify and YouTube.