Shakira to Stand Trial in Tax Fraud Case, Prosecutors Seek 8-Year Jail Term
Colombian superstar Shakira is set to go on trial in Barcelona on Monday in a tax fraud case, with Spanish prosecutors seeking a jail term of over eight years for the Grammy-winning singer. The charges allege that Shakira defrauded the Spanish state of 14.5 million euros ($15.7 million) on income earned between 2012 and 2014. However, Shakira denies the charges and claims that she only became a full-time resident of Spain in 2015.
The case revolves around determining the amount of time Shakira spent in Spain between 2012 and 2014. Spanish authorities argue that the Queen of Latin Pop spent more than half of that period in Spain and should have paid taxes in the country. They assert that she only officially moved to Spain in 2015, after her relationship with former FC Barcelona star Gerard Pique became public in 2011. Until then, she maintained tax residency in the Bahamas.
According to the prosecution, Shakira used a network of companies based in tax havens to evade paying taxes in Spain. As a result, prosecutors are seeking a jail term of eight years and two months, along with a fine of nearly 24 million euros ($24 million) for the singer.
Shakira’s defense team argues that until 2014, she led a nomadic lifestyle and earned most of her income from international tours. They claim that she permanently moved to Barcelona shortly before the birth of her second son in January 2015. In June 2022, Shakira announced her split from Pique after a decade-long relationship and relocated to Miami with their two sons.
The high-profile trial is scheduled to begin at a Barcelona court and is expected to run until December 14, with approximately 120 witnesses expected to testify. While Shakira is expected to take the stand during the opening session, she may request permission to be absent from the remaining hearings.
The trial is expected to reveal details about Shakira’s private life, as Spanish prosecutors conducted an extensive investigation to substantiate their claims. They interviewed her neighbors, monitored her social media activity, checked payments at hairdressers, and even examined the health clinic she attended during her pregnancy.
This is not the first time questions have been raised about Shakira’s finances. In 2021, she was named in the “Pandora Papers,” a leak of financial documents that exposed the wealth and tax avoidance strategies of the global rich, specifically regarding her residence in the Bahamas.
Spain has recently taken a stricter stance on tax evasion, targeting celebrities such as football stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Both players were found guilty of evasion but had their prison sentences waived as first-time offenders. Shakira’s former partner, Gerard Pique, was also convicted of tax fraud in 2016 and ordered to pay the tax office 2.1 million euros.
Despite the upcoming trial, Shakira received three awards at the Latin Grammy Awards in Seville, including song of the year and best pop song for her collaboration with Argentine DJ Bizarrap. The track includes references to her former partner Pique and mentions being in debt to the tax office.