International pop star Shakira accepted a plea agreement on the opening day of her tax fraud trial in Barcelona, avoiding the risk of imprisonment. The Colombian singer acknowledged six counts of failing to pay the Spanish government 14.5 million euros (about $15.8 million) in taxes between 2012 and 2014. The trial, initially set to span several weeks with over 100 witnesses, concluded abruptly within minutes of starting.
Under the agreement, Shakira will receive a three-year suspended sentence and pay fines totaling approximately 7.7 million euros, including the unpaid taxes and interest. However, this outcome places a legal record of tax fraud against her, potentially impacting a separate ongoing tax case.
The allegations centered on Shakira’s residency during 2012-14. Prosecutors claimed she spent significant time in Spain, warranting tax payments on her global income, despite her official residence being in the Bahamas. Shakira’s defense argued that she did not meet Spain’s residency requirements for tax purposes, citing her extensive travel and participation in the NBC show “The Voice” in the United States.
Shakira, in a statement, expressed her desire to move past the stress of the last few years and focus on her family and career. Her defense team initially prepared for trial, believing in her innocence, but circumstances led to accepting the plea deal.
Shakira, full name Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, faced an eight-year prison sentence and a fine exceeding €23 million had the case proceeded. She had consistently denied the accusations, asserting that she did not reside in Spain during the said period.
The case’s resolution marks a significant moment in Shakira’s legal journey, reflecting Spain’s crackdown on tax evasion, which has previously involved high-profile figures like soccer stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite the settlement, Shakira faces another investigation for allegedly evading 6.7 million euros in taxes on her 2018 income.
Residing in Miami after ending her 11-year relationship with Barcelona soccer star Gerard Piqué, Shakira continues to navigate the complexities of her legal and personal life.