Shakira to face trial over tax fraud

Pop star Shakira has been ordered to stand trial on accusations she duped the Spanish government out of millions of dollars of taxes.

Spanish prosecutors have accused the Colombian singer of failing to pay €14.5 million ($21.6 million) in taxes in 2018, on income earned between 2012 and 2014.

Shakira, 45, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and previously rejected a deal with prosecutors to avoid going to trial.

The Hips Don’t Lie performer faces six counts of tax fraud and is subject to a possible eight-year prison sentence and a significant fine if she is found guilty.

The case hinges on prosecutors’ claim that Shakira was a resident of Spain for tax purposes from 2011-2014. They say the Grammy winner spent more than half of that time in Spain and should have paid taxes there, even though her official residence was in the Bahamas.

Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, has been linked to Spain since she started dating soccer player Gerard Pique. The couple, who have two children, used to live together in Barcelona but ended their 11-year relationship earlier this year.

“While Gerard and I were dating, I was on a world tour. I spent more than 240 days outside of Spain, so there was no way I qualified as a resident,” she said.

“The Spanish tax authorities saw that I was dating a Spanish citizen and started to salivate. It’s clear they wanted to go after that money no matter what.”

Shakira rejected a deal with Spanish prosecutors in July.

She has also publicly disputed claims she was a Spanish resident, telling Elle magazine on Wednesday she was leading a “nomadic life” because of her work.

“I have to fight for what I believe; because these are false accusations,” she said.

“I owe zero to them.”

Her public relations firm said in a statement that “Shakira has always, including in the period between 2011 and 2014, met her tax obligations in every country she has worked in”.

“As soon as she was informed of the amount that according to Spain’s tax office she should pay … Shakira paid that amount in its entirety.”

In 2019, Shakira testified before a judge as part of an investigation into her alleged tax evasion In May she lost an appeal to avoid trial, and in June rejected a settlement deal offer from prosecutors.

The date of the trial has yet to be set.

Spain has also cracked down on alleged tax evasion by soccer stars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in recent years. Both were found guilty of evasion, but avoided prison.

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