Shakira loses final battle to avoid trial for tax fraud

A court has thrown out the singer’s appeal, meaning she is one step closer to taking the stand over allegations she evaded €14.5 million in taxes

Shakira en Cannes
Shakira at the Cannes Film Festival.Getty Images

Shakira has lost her last chance to avoid trial for tax fraud in Spain. On Thursday, the Barcelona Provincial High Court threw out the Colombian singer’s appeal and confirmed that there is sufficient evidence that she defrauded the Spanish Tax Agency of €14.5 million ($15.5 million). Although it’s still possible for Shakira to reach a last-minute agreement with Spain’s public prosecutor, she has not succeeded in stopping the case from going to trial.

The three-year investigation into Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, came to an end last year in July. The judge found that there was “sufficient evidence” to try her for evading €14.5 million in taxes by concealing her wealth via a network of companies based in tax havens.

The judge held that, between 2012 and 2014, the singer was a tax resident in Spain and, therefore, had to pay her taxes in the country, which she did not do. Shakira has consistently maintained that during those years she lived in the Bahamas and only visited Spain “sporadically.” But this claim was repeatedly debunked by tax inspectors, who have closely investigated Shakira’s life in Barcelona, where she lives with FC Barcelona soccer player Gerard Piqué.

Shakira’s defense filed an appeal to insist that there is no direct evidence that Shakira spent “more than 183 days in Spain” during the years in question. Under Spanish law, a person is considered a tax resident if they have spent this number of days in the country.

The singer also argued that she does not have any debt with the Spanish Tax Office, pointing out that she has already paid €17 million ($18.2 million). But the Barcelona court dismissed her appeal on Thursday. Although the court did not go into detail, it found that there was enough evidence to indicate that the case should go to trial.

The Barcelona Prosecutor’s Office was waiting for the court’s ruling to present its indictment against Shakira. The singer is accused of three tax offenses and may face prison time. There is still time for her to reach a last-minute deal with the prosecutors, i.e. admit to the accusations and pay a fine in exchange for avoiding prison, but Shakira’s defense continues to maintain that she has not committed any crime and that she will defend her innocence in court.

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