Personal appearance: Shakira leaves the courthouse in Barcelona
Albert Gea / REUTERS
The tax fraud trial against pop star Shakira in Spain is closed after an agreement with the public prosecutor's office. The presiding judge announced in Barcelona that the 46-year-old Colombian had pleaded guilty in the course of the agreement and agreed to pay a fine. Shakira is sentenced to three years in prison on probation and a fine of 7.3 million euros.
Shakira had appeared in person at the court hearing in Barcelona. In the coming weeks, around a hundred witnesses were supposed to be questioned – but now the trial was stopped after a few minutes. Humbly and quietly, the Colombian admitted to a multi-million dollar tax fraud against the Spanish tax authorities, which she had previously denied with the same energy with which she appears in videos and on stage.
"That's right," "yes," and "yes, thank you," the singer said quietly in her chair in response to the questions, before being released after less than a minute, as seen on the judiciary's livestream. The recognition of the offence was necessary in order to reach an out-of-court settlement, which was reached shortly before the start of the criminal tax proceedings.
Shakira had previously denied allegations
The public prosecutor's office had demanded eight years in prison and a fine of 23.8 million euros for the mother of two sons. Shakira had so far firmly rejected the allegations and initially rejected an offer from the prosecution to settle the matter out of court. She believed in her innocence and had decided to put the matter in the hands of the judiciary, she said at the time.
The singer had always asserted that during the years in question she had not resided in Spain, but in the Bahamas. She had only repeatedly visited her then partner and football star Gerard Piqué, with whom she has two children and from whom she is now separated, in Barcelona. It wasn't until 2015 that she lived permanently in Barcelona. In addition, it had paid all taxes plus interest in arrears in the amount of EUR 17.2 million. After her guilty plea, she is now spared a trial.
The accusation: False information about the place of residence
The public prosecutor's office had accused Shakira of making false statements about her place of residence and thus defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of almost 14.5 million euros. According to the indictment, the Colombian had moved to Spain shortly after her relationship with the then FC Barcelona player Gerard Piqué became known in 2011. However, until 2015, she had declared the Bahamas as her tax residence.
Specifically, the trial was supposed to cover the period from 2012 to 2014. According to the prosecution, Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, spent more than half of her time in Spain during these years – and therefore would have had to pay taxes there. In order to circumvent the payments, she used companies in tax havens.
Shakira's lawyers, on the other hand, argued that the internationally successful singer of hits such as "Whenever, Wherever" and "Hips Don't Lie" had led a "nomadic life" until 2014 and earned most of her money from international tours. She only moved permanently to Spain shortly before the birth of her second son in January 2015.
After her separation from Piqué, which was announced last year, Shakira now lives with her sons Milan and Sasha in the US metropolis of Miami.