Shakira agrees to pay 7 million euro fine to avoid tax fraud trial

Colombian singer faced a jail term over charges that she failed to pay 14.5 milllion euros in Spanish income tax

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 20 November 2023 10:28 GMT
Sergio Ramos presents Shakira with award at Latin Grammys

Shakira has settled her tax dispute with Spanish authorities just hours before her trial was set to commence.

The “Hips Don’t Lie” singer was set to stand trial in Barcelona today (Monday 20 November) to face charges that she failed to pay 14.5 million euros in Spanish income tax between 2012 and 2014.

Prosecutors in Barcelona alleged that the Grammy winner spent more than half of that two-year period in Spain and, therefore, should have paid taxes in the country, even though her official residence was in the Bahamas.

On Monday morning, Shakira issued a statement to The Independent announcing that she has resolved the dispute with Spain’s authorities, after earlier vowing to fight what she called false accusations. She has agreed to pay a fine of 7 million euros (£6.1m).

“Throughout my career, I have always strived to do what’s right and set a positive example for others,” the Colombian artist, 46, said.

She continued that, despite her and her legal counsel’s 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”.

“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,” she said.

“I need to move past the stress and emotional toll of the last several years and focus on the things I love - 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.”

As part of the deal that puts an end to the trial, the prosecution changed jail time for Shakira with fines, the judge said during the trial’s first hearing.

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Spanish tax authorities have been cracking down on entertainment and sporting figures, including Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, in recent years.

In 2017, Messi’s 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud was switched to a 252,000 euro fine by the Spanish courts, after he and his father, Jorge, were found guilty of defrauding Spain of 4.1 million euros between 2007 and 2009.

In 2019, Ronaldo put an end to his own tax evasion case after four years, when he pleaded guilty to tax fraud and agreed to pay a fine of nearly 19 million euros. He was also given a two-year suspended sentence.

Both players avoided prison time thanks to a provision that allows judges to suspend sentences for two years or less for first-time offenders.

Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, has been linked to Spain since she began dating the now-retired football star Gerard Piqué, whom she met on the set of her “Waka Waka” music video in 2010.

The former couple, who share two children, lived together in Barcelona until 2022, when they ended their 11-year relationship in dramatic fashion, with Shakira releasing a diss track aimed at Piqué and his new girlfriend, Clara Chia Marti.

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