Is Shakira going to jail? Singer to face trial in Spain over $20M tax evasion
A Spanish judge said that there is “sufficient evidence” that Colombian singer Shakira has defrauded around $20 million (£14.5 million) to the Treasury by pretending that she did not reside in Spain and hiding her income through a corporate network in tax havens from 2012 to 2014.
Spanish prosecutors have accused the 44-year-old Colombian beauty of six offenses, which could result in jail time if she is convicted. Prosecutors have claimed that Shakira stopped paying taxes in Spain in the years 2012, 2013 and 2014. Shakira has earlier said that during those years she lived in the Bahamas and was not a resident of Spain, and was only visiting the country 'sporadically'. The judge has now concluded there are "sufficient indications" for Shakira to go to trial over the tax evasion.
Shakira is planning to present an appeal to the Barcelona Court against the judgment. She has previously insisted she is innocent of tax evasion after she was questioned by a Spanish judge. Shakira dismissed allegations of not paying tax when she lived in Spain between 2011 and 2014, during an hour and a half long hearing in Esplugues de Llobregat, near Barcelona.
The criminal process originated from a complaint from the Spanish Prosecutor’s Office, which accuses Shakira of six crimes against the Public Treasury. Reports suggest that she has already paid the $20 million and that the Spanish Tax Agency charged, excluding the taxes, which was around 3 grand, for an alleged tax fraud committed between those years. The judge said that, from the proceedings carried out, it is understood that the singer stopped paying taxes in Spain during those three years, “despite having the obligation to do so because she has her tax residence here.” The order also leaves Shakira’s tax advisor exposed to trial for purportedly cooperating in the corporate network “erected to avoid paying tax obligations.” According to the judge, the defendants used a series of mercantile companies “as holders of the income and assets” of Shakira.
The magistrate said that this is not the procedural moment to “resolve guilt or innocence”, but to “verify whether the accusation brought by the Public Prosecutor and the accusations filed – Tax Agency and the regional government of Catalonia – have sufficient grounds”. Experts on Shakira’s defense team said that the singer had a certificate of permanent residence in the Bahamas and that, until 2015, her presence in Spain did not exceed the 183 days per year that required her to pay taxes in this country.
Her defense team had argued that until 2014 she earned most of her money in international tours and did not live more than six months a year in Spain and was therefore not a resident under tax law. The statement said: "Shakira has always fulfilled her tax duties in all those countries in which she has worked, including in the period between 2011 and 2014. She followed the opinions and precise recommendations of her advisers, who are top-level professionals from one of the biggest companies in the world." Shakira is one of the biggest Latin American stars, scoring major global hits with songs such as 'She Wolf' and 'Waka Waka'.