Shakira tax fraud trial starts today

Colombian singer Shakira is set to go on trial in Barcelona on Monday for a tax fraud case. Spanish prosecutors are seeking a jail term of over eight years for the Grammy-winning artist, accusing her of defrauding the Spanish state of 14.5 million euros ($15.7 million) between 2012 and 2014. Shakira denies the charges, stating that she only moved to Spain full-time in 2015. The trial focuses on the amount of time Shakira spent in Spain during the mentioned period.

Spanish authorities claim that she spent more than half of that time in the country and should have paid taxes there. They allege that Shakira used companies based in tax havens to avoid paying taxes in Spain. The prosecution is seeking a jail term of eight years and two months, as well as a fine of nearly 24 million euros ($24 million) for the singer.

Shakira’s defense argues that she led a “nomadic life” until 2014, earning most of her income from international tours. They claim that she permanently moved to Barcelona in early 2015, just before the birth of her second son. In an interview with Elle magazine in 2022, Shakira stated that she had already paid the claimed amount before the lawsuit was filed, asserting that she owed nothing.

The trial, scheduled to run until December 14, will take place in a Barcelona court. Nearly 120 witnesses are expected to testify, including Shakira herself. However, she may request permission from the court to be absent from the remaining hearings.

The proceedings are likely to shed light on Shakira’s personal life, as Spanish prosecutors conducted a thorough investigation, interviewing neighbors, tracking her social media posts, and examining her payments, even to hairdressers, and medical records during pregnancy.

This is not the first time questions about Shakira’s finances have arisen. In October 2021, she was named in the “Pandora Papers,” a leak of financial documents revealing the wealth and tax avoidance strategies of the global elite, relating to her residence in the Bahamas.

Spain has recently taken action against celebrities, such as football stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, for tax evasion. Shakira’s former partner, Gerard Pique, was also convicted of tax fraud in 2016 and ordered to pay the tax office 2.1 million euros. Despite these legal challenges, Shakira continues to make music and recently received three awards at the Latin Grammy Awards in Seville. (With AFP inputs)

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William Murphy

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