After staunchly maintaining her innocence for nearly five years, pop sensation Shakira struck a last-minute agreement to sidestep the potential of imprisonment on the inaugural day of her tax fraud trial in Barcelona this Monday.
Addressing the presiding magistrate, José Manuel del Amo, Shakira confirmed her acceptance of the accord negotiated with prosecutors. She unequivocally admitted to six counts of failing to remit 14.5 million euros (approximately $15.8 million) in taxes to the Spanish government between 2012 and 2014.
According to the terms of the arrangement, Shakira is slated to receive a suspended three-year sentence and a fine totaling 7 million euros ($7.6 million). Remarkably, the trial, initially anticipated to span weeks and feature over 100 witnesses, was abruptly called off after a mere eight minutes.
Prosecutors, who had previously hinted at seeking an eight-year, two-month prison term and a fine amounting to 24 million euros ($26 million) for the globally acclaimed singer, ultimately yielded to the expedited resolution.
In a statement conveyed by her public relations firm, Shakira expressed her initial intent to persevere but prioritized her family, career, and peace of mind. She emphasized her decision to bring closure to the matter for the sake of her children, stating, “I need to move past the stress and emotional toll of the last several years and focus on the things I love—my kids and all the opportunities to come in my career.”
The crux of the case revolved around Shakira’s residence during the contentious period, with prosecutors in Barcelona contending that she spent more than half of that time in Spain. Despite her official residence remaining in the Bahamas, they argued she should have paid taxes in Spain on her global income, as tax rates in the Bahamas are substantially lower.
Shakira, aged 46, greeted a small crowd outside the courthouse, waving and blowing a kiss before proceeding inside. The defense, led by lawyer Miriam Company, acknowledged the difficulty of the decision, citing a shift in circumstances that led Shakira to opt for the negotiated deal.
Notably, Shakira had previously rejected a deal in July 2022, expressing faith in her innocence. The artist, implicated in the “Paradise Papers” leaks alongside other high-profile figures, had maintained through her public relations firm that she had already settled her dues, including an additional 3 million euros ($3.2 million) in interest.
The defense team, Molins Defensa Penal, contended in November 2022 that Shakira had not exceeded 60 days a year in Spain during the period, arguing that spending half the year in the country was a prerequisite for fiscal residency. Her rigorous touring schedule in 2011 and commitments in the United States, such as serving on the jury for “The Voice,” were presented as evidence of her global engagements.
Despite these assertions, Spanish prosecutors and investigating judge Marco Juberías, following a three-year probe, found sufficient evidence to warrant a trial. Shakira, questioned by Juberías in 2019, consistently maintained her innocence throughout the process.