Colombian singer Shakira ultimately avoided jail in Spain by reaching an agreement with the Spanish justice system to pay a fine of 7.3 million euros, plus 432,000 euros in additional court fees. The singer admitted to defrauding the Spanish tax authorities of 14.5 million euros between 2012 and 2014 and agreed to a deal with the Prosecutor’s Office, thus avoiding the trial that was scheduled to begin today, November 20th, in Barcelona, Spain.
Shakira has acknowledged the facts and accepted a sentence of 3 years in prison (six months for each offense) and a fine equivalent to 50% of the defrauded amount for each of the undeclared income tax returns, which surpass seven million euros. She won’t serve the prison sentence as it can be substituted by 400 euros per day of conviction, totaling around 432,000 euros. In total, Shakira will pay nearly eight million euros (7,713,484 euros), adding to the over 14 million euros she has already returned.
Additionally, she’s barred from receiving public grants and tax incentives for 6 years. The agreement recognizes the mitigating factor of damage reparation. All parties have ratified the agreement, and all accusations have confirmed to the judge that they will not appeal, making the sentence final.
Over 200 journalists were accredited for today’s brief court hearing.
An 8-Minute Trial
The trial began with a 10-minute delay in Barcelona, where the Colombian singer lived during the years she defrauded the Spanish tax authorities. The hearing lasted merely 8 minutes: the time taken to read the agreement reached by both the prosecution and the defense, for Shakira to admit to the facts before the judge, and for all parties to ratify the agreed terms.
According to Miriam Company, Shakira’s lawyer, the singer accepted the agreement “motivated by her peace of mind and that of her children, intending to focus on her professional career.” She added that the legal team respects Shakira’s reasons for accepting guilt, although they were confident of being able to “prove her innocence.”
The singer’s representatives leveraged Shakira’s presence in Spain, where she attended the Latin Grammy Awards in Seville, to expedite an agreement that spares her a lengthy trial. This legal process has lasted six years and could have extended for several more.
The point of contention between the prosecution and the defense was proving whether Shakira resided in Spain during those years. While this was evident for the Prosecutor’s Office, her lawyers claimed Shakira became a tax resident in Spain only from 2015 and had no outstanding debts since she promptly paid once she became aware of the tax claims, even before the Prosecutor’s Office filed a lawsuit.
This fact was taken into account by the Prosecutor’s Office and considered a mitigating factor in her sentence. However, the accusation argued that the singer pretended to live in the Bahamas for three years when she was already residing in Spain, to avoid paying the taxes in question, and had utilized a network of companies in various tax havens where all her income during this period was directed.
More than a Hundred Witnesses Were Expected
The Prosecutor’s Office was prepared to summon over a hundred witnesses, including former employees of the singer and even employees from hair salons, beauty centers, and restaurants. This would again expose aspects of her private life between 2012 and 2014, during the beginning of her relationship with now ex-husband and father of her children, Gerard Piqué, from whom she separated amidst significant media attention in June 2022.
“I have come to the conclusion that it is not a triumph to win if the price is losing so many years of your life. I greatly admire those Spanish citizens, like Xabi Alonso, Sito Pons, and many others, who have fought to the end investing years of their lives in this, but for me, today, winning is getting my time back. What good is it to win a lawsuit in the end if you have to fight for 10 or 15 years and lose everything along the way?” emphasized the Colombian singer upon leaving the court.
Shakira Still Faces Legal Issues in Spain
Despite the agreement, Shakira is not free from judicial problems in Spain due to alleged tax evasion. A court in Esplugues de Llobregat, the Barcelona city where the singer resided with her family, has been investigating her since last July following another case raised by the Prosecutor’s Office. They accuse her of evading 6.6 million euros in the wealth tax in 2018, using a network of companies based in tax havens.
This procedure, independent of today’s concluded agreement, is related to her “El Dorado” tour, from which she received undeclared income of 12.5 million euros five years ago. So far, this case is following its own course in the courts, and its final outcome is yet to be determined.