TAX EVASION

Court medical examiner to assess opera star Montserrat Caballé’s health

Doctor to check if mobility problems are stopping soprano from attending tax fraud hearing

An archive image of Montserrat Caballé at Barcelona’s Liceo opera house.
An archive image of Montserrat Caballé at Barcelona’s Liceo opera house.Carles Ribas

A Barcelona court is to send a medical examiner to the home of opera star Montserrat Caballé in order to verify whether her health problems really are preventing her from attending a hearing to ratify the deal she signed with the public prosecutor and the Tax Agency over fraud worth €500,000.

The 83-year-old soprano’s lawyer has claimed that her mobility problems have stopped her coming into court to sign off on the agreement, in which she will admit to having defrauded €500,000 in tax in 2010. In exchange, she will receive a lighter, six-month sentence that will allow her to avoid jail time.

Several weeks ago, Caballé’s lawyer filed a request for her to appear in court via videoconference

The judge in the case has now agreed to a request from the public prosecutor to send a doctor to verify her claim.

Several weeks ago, Caballé’s lawyer filed a request for his client to appear in court via videoconference to ratify the deal. While common practice for witnesses and medical examiners when making court statements, it is unheard of in the case of the accused.

The judge will rule on the matter once the medical report is available.

The case open against Caballé is the result of a complaint filed against her last year by the public prosecutor, which accused the singer of failing to present a tax declaration for 2010 after falsely claiming that she was living in Andorra, when, in reality, her main residence was Barcelona.

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After arduous negotiations, the soprano admitted to the charges and paid back the €500,000 defrauded, which allowed for the punishment to be reduced to a six-month sentence for tax crimes.

The soprano has twice been summoned to formally sign off on the deal in recent months. On the first occasion, she presented a medical certificate to excuse her. But on the second, on May 12, she failed to offer any explanation for her failure to show up. However, her lawyer did appear to announce that there was a “lack of confidence” between himself and his client, and he stated that he would no longer be defending her.

Almost a month later, Caballé appointed a new attorney, who has since presented medical reports to back up the fact that the singer’s delicate health meant she has been unable to attend a hearing.

English version by Nick Funnell.

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