Prosecutors seek eight-year prison term for Shakira on tax fraud charges

The popular singer also faces a fine of over €23 million in connection with six counts of tax offenses allegedly committed between 2012 and 2014

The singer Shakira is facing a tax trial in Spain.
The singer Shakira is facing a tax trial in Spain.Cordon press

Spanish prosecutors on Friday formalized charges against Shakira, requesting a prison term of eight years and two months for the Colombian singer if she is found guilty in connection with six crimes against the Public Treasury.

After the possibility of a settlement vanished - Shakira rejected the last offer - the public prosecution concluded that the artist defrauded €14.5 million ($15 million) between 2012 and 2014. In addition to the prison term, Shakira could face a fine of over €23 million.

Shakira is charged with six crimes against the tax authorities with two aggravating factors: the large amount of money involved and the use of offshore companies that allegedly allowed her to conceal her income.

The prosecution, however, also appreciates an extenuating circumstance: the fact that the artist made available to the court €17.2 million to address possible liabilities. At the trial, the prosecution wishes to question Shakira as well as 37 witnesses, some of whom will testify via videoconference.

In the coming weeks, the court in Esplugues (Barcelona) that has been investigating the case will issue an order to start hearings. That means that, even if there is a last-minute deal, Shakira will have to take the stand, if only to confirm it.

The Colombian singer has harshly criticized the prosecution, accusing it of being “intransigent” and using “undue means to pressure” her. She is seeking a full acquittal and is determined to fight to the end, said sources familiar with the situation.

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 was living with FC Barcelona soccer player Gerard Piqué. In early June the couple announced their separation after 12 years together.

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.

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