Joan Mateu Parra/AP
BARCELONA, Spain — After insisting her innocence for nearly five years, pop star Shakira has struck a last-minute deal to avoid the risk of jail on the opening day of her show. tax fraud trial Monday in Barcelona.
Shakira told presiding judge José Manuel del Amo that she accepted the deal with prosecutors. She answered “yes” to confirm her guilty plea to six counts of failing to pay 14.5 million euros (approximately $15.8 million) in taxes to the Spanish government. 2012 and 2014.
Under the agreement, Shakira will be sentenced to three years’ probation and fined 7 million euros ($7.6 million).
More than 100 witnesses were due to appear in the trial over the coming weeks, but it was called off after just eight minutes.
Prosecutors said in July they would seek eight years and two months in prison and a 24 million euro ($26 million) fine for the singer, who has won worldwide fame with hits in different music genres in Spanish and English. fans.
Shakira said in a statement provided by her public relations firm that she wants to keep fighting but puts her family, career and inner peace first.
“I decided to finally resolve this issue with the best interests of my children in mind, who didn’t want to see their mom sacrifice her personal well-being in this fight,” she said. “I needed to get over the stress and the stress of the past few years. The emotional toll and focusing on the things I love, my kids and all the opportunities that come my way in my career.”
The case hinges on where Shakira, 46, was living at the time.
Barcelona prosecutors claim the Colombian singer spends more than half her time in Spain and therefore should pay taxes in Spain on her worldwide income even though her official residence remains in the Bahamas. Tax rates in The Bahamas are much lower than Spain.
The multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy winner waved and blew a kiss to a small group of onlookers before entering the courthouse. She sat briefly in front of a panel of judges, flanked by the prosecutor’s team on one side and the defense on the other.
“This was a difficult decision that will take time to make,” defense attorney Miriam Conyon told reporters. “Her legal team had prepared for trial and believed we could prove her innocence, but this situation occurred. There was a change and (Shakira) chose to accept the deal.”
Shakira rejected the settlement agreement offered to her by prosecutors in July 2022, saying through her Spanish public relations company Llorente y Cuenca that she “believes in her innocence and has chosen to leave the matter to the law.” “Details of the potential transaction have not been made public.
Shakira was named “paradise essayThe leaks detailed the offshore tax arrangements of numerous celebrities, including music figures such as Madonna and U2 member Bono.
Shakira’s public relations firm has previously said she has paid all the money she was owed plus an additional 3 million euros (about $3.2 million) in interest.
Shakira’s defense team, Barcelona-based Molins Defensa Penal, said in November 2022 that during this period, Shakira would spend no more than 60 days in the country per year, adding that she would need to stay in Spain for half a year. Considered a fiscal resident.Her defense said she took an extended leave of absence from Barcelona during a world tour in 2011 and then spent a long time in the United States as a jury member on the NBC television music talent show sound.
Spanish prosecutors disagreed, with investigative judge Marco Juberías writing in 2021 at the end of a three-year investigation into the accusations that he found there was “sufficient evidence of a crime” to bring the case to trial. The case enters the trial stage. Shakira defended her innocence. in 2019, when she was questioned by Juberías.
Her appeal to have the case dismissed last year failed.
According to her defense team, Shakira established financial residency in Spain in 2014 while her eldest child was attending school in Barcelona because she would spend more time with her family in Spain.
In Spain, the investigating judge conducts a preliminary investigation and decides to dismiss the case or send it to trial. If a first-time offender is sentenced to less than two years in prison, the court may waive the jail time.
In a separate investigation, Spanish state prosecutors in September accused Shakira of tax evasion on 2018 income of 6.7 million euros.
They accuse her of using an offshore company based in a tax haven to avoid taxes.
Spain cracks down on football stars such as Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo was convicted of tax evasion over the past decade for failing to pay the full amount of tax, but both have avoided jail after receiving suspended sentences.
Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, has two children with Barcelona football star Gerard Piqué, Milan and Sasha. The couple lived together in Barcelona last year before ending their 11-year relationship. She has since lived in Miami.
Shakira thanked her fans in Spain for “being with me in good times and bad” after her win at the Latin Grammy Awards in Seville on Thursday.