Shakira could possibly go to Spanish prison for eight years for tax evasion

Before now, I wasn’t really paying much attention to Shakira’s tax situation, so I’m playing catch-up. I didn’t know Shakira was one of the people named in the Paradise Papers and the Pandora Papers, which were leaks of all of the rich-person tax havens and tax shelters in places like the British Virgin Islands and Malta. So, Shakira is Colombian and she owns property in her home country. She also owns property in Miami Beach, Uruguay, the Bahamas and, of course, Barcelona. Shakira has lived in Spain for years now, although apparently the exact date of her relocation to Spain is up for debate. She and Gerard Pique lived in a wealthy enclave in Barcelona and I believe it was always her property alone. Arguably, she will keep that home now that she and Pique are over. This Barcelona property is the root of Spain’s case against her for tax fraud. She could end up in jail for eight years for tax fraud in Spain!

Spanish prosecutors have called for more than eight years in prison and a fine of about $24 million for Shakira over alleged tax fraud, as the authorities push ahead with their years-long case against the Colombian pop star.

Shakira’s legal woes began in 2018 when Spanish authorities accused her of evading taxes amounting to 14.5 million euros, or nearly $15 million, between 2012 and 2014 — a three-year period during which she claimed she had not yet officially moved to Spain. A judge concluded last year that prosecutors had gathered sufficient evidence to pursue tax fraud charges in court.

On Friday, prosecutors unveiled six charges against Shakira, 45, after she rejected a settlement deal earlier this week, El País reported. According to the Spanish newspaper, authorities highlighted the substantial amount of taxes she allegedly owed, as well as her record of using offshore tax havens, as aggravating factors in the case. Shakira has denied wrongdoing on multiple occasions, including during her court testimony in 2019.

Shakira’s publicists in London said the singer “has always cooperated and abided by the law, demonstrating impeccable conduct as an individual and a taxpayer,” the Associated Press reported. Her public relations team in Spain said she immediately repaid the amount she owed to the country’s tax agency once she was notified. She also deposited an additional 3 million euros in interest. These payments, El País reported, may be considered a mitigating circumstance by prosecutors when it comes to the length of a potential prison sentence.

The tax fraud charges hinge on where Shakira lived from 2012 to 2014. She claims that her tax residency was in the Bahamas until 2015, when she relocated to Barcelona with her partner, FC Barcelona soccer player Gerard Piqué. (The couple, who have two children together, last month announced the end of their 11-year relationship.)

But according to Spanish investigators, Shakira allegedly spent more than 200 days in the country in each of those three years. The Spanish government stipulates that an individual who stays in the country for 184 days or more is considered a resident for tax purposes. These findings, first published by El País in 2020, were based on a reconstruction of Shakira’s schedule, such as public sightings by fans and photographers. Prosecutors also allege that Shakira bought property in Barcelona in 2012, which later became the family home she shared with Piqué, Reuters reported.

[From WaPo]

I know there will be some garden variety “eat the rich” comments here, but… I kind of wonder if Shakira is getting rooked? If Shakira’s people are telling the truth and “she immediately repaid the amount she owed to the country’s tax agency once she was notified. She also deposited an additional 3 million euros in interest,” then why are they still pressing this? I understand that there’s an issue of whether she knowingly committed tax fraud, thus the investigation and charges and what have you, but if she already paid the back taxes she owed, why are the Spanish authorities still pursuing this so vigorously? Are they mad that Shakira treated the tax issue like a bill to be a paid rather than a criminal investigation?

I also don’t understand why government agencies have all the time in the world to pursue people using overseas tax shelters and yet none of those same agencies will actually change their country’s laws to make it more difficult for people to hide their money. If tax loopholes and tax havens exist, of course people are going to use them.

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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26 Responses to “Shakira could possibly go to Spanish prison for eight years for tax evasion”

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  1. Kokiri says:

    I read, they’ve been investigating for a year!

    They had to go back to her social media and reconstruct her movements over 3 years time frame.

    Over. Kill.

    I also think something is hinky here.

  2. TwinFalls says:

    This feels off and wrong.

  3. Charlotte says:

    The Spanish have been aggressively chasing many celebs/sports personalities for large sums of money in “tax fraud” cases. Lots of these stink of just plain money raising by the government.

  4. Emmi says:

    Putting on my tinfoil hat here. Who did she refuse to smile at? Hm? Because this is ridiculous. Since she uses tax shelters, I’m not going to assume she just didn’t know what she was doing. And if she didn’t, she has people for that. But clearly, she paid up. By all means, fine her. And be done with it! Maybe the EU should use their collective power to make corporations like Amazon pay taxes instead of putting so much time and so many resources into punishing Shakira.

    • HandforthParish says:

      The two are not incompatible- you can pursue corporations and also rich people who think they are above the law.
      She has enough money to pay multiple tax accountants who can give her very clear instructions as to what rules are- if you live in a tax free country, don’t spend more than 184 days in another country.
      Not difficult.

  5. Kelly says:

    This is an actual crime prosecuted by actual professionals that has been investigated for years. I’m not saying she’s guilty for sure but they won’t pursue this just because it’s Shakira and they want their 15 minutes of fame. If the case got to to this point it’s because there’s something going on.

  6. Lizzie Bathory says:

    They’re almost certainly going at her hard because she hasn’t been cooperating & resisted the proposed settlement. It’s very standard to have laws imposing income tax based on the number of days someone is in a country. Unfortunately for Shakira, it’s also pretty easy to prove based on immigration & customs documentation. I’ve had to track the number of days clients spend in certain countries to make sure they don’t run afoul of income tax laws. It isn’t difficult if you care about following the rules.

    And aggressive prosecution of tax evasion is one of the most effective ways to deter wealthy folks from…evading taxes. Team revenue agencies.

    • MissMarirose says:

      I agree. I wish the US IRS was this aggressive against rich people evading taxes. Whatever the outcome, Spanish tax authorities have shown that they don’t consider anyone above the law, even members of their royal family.

    • kirk says:

      Sounds like Shakira has done the equivalent of posting cash bond in US so she can ‘have her day in court.’ Despite her publicists suggesting that she truly admitted default (“repaid the amount she owed to the country’s tax agency”); she merely “deposited an additional 3 million euros in interest.” Don’t think girl has loosed her grip on that cash yet. Mitigating factor? Maybe.

  7. Gah says:

    Sounds like the issue is residency.

    Like a lot of digital nomads we have been exploring Europe for long term living bc of health care costs in the US esp. many of the fellow nomads avoid Spain because of their higher tax rates.

    If she was in Spain more than her allotted days as a non resident then she has to pay up.

    • HandforthParish says:

      That’s the thing- she can still use tax havens and save up, but it’s basic knowledge that if she stays in Spain for more than a set amount of days a year, she’s got to pay up.
      Knowingly or not is irrelevant, as far as I understand. It’s the whole ‘ignorance is not a legal excuse’ argument- as an expat she should have people keeping uptodate with her residency status.
      I assume they are now suing her for tax fraud and refusal to pay the 24 million fine?

      Saying that they did the same with Messi and Ronaldo and they got a suspended sentence. If she actually ends up in jail I would be shocked.

    • Fabiola says:

      Why not just have her pay up? Why the prison term. It seems like there was confusion on whether she stayed past 180 days in Spain. If she messed up the days then fine her and have her pay. Sometimes when we do our taxes we don’t initially pay the right amount then the government gives you a bill after they audit and you pay what they say you owe.

  8. Amy Bee says:

    Rich people, pay your taxes!

  9. Sunday says:

    I do find it interesting that another person with “creative” accounting methods saw fit to partner with Prince William’s dubious environmental awards. This tax evasion case just adds another asterisk to the shady financiers involved in that whole charade.

    That being said, I completely agree with Kaiser that it’s ridiculous to target someone for using offshore tax shelters without doing anything to actually prevent the offshore tax shelters from existing in the first place.

  10. JP says:

    Sometimes just paying the amount of taxes you’ve been proven to owe is sufficient, but if they believe that her actions were premeditated and deliberate, then I don’t think it’s that unbelievable to expect that she would be subject to additional legal repercussions. I think part of the shock of it is that we’re just not used to seeing rich people being held accountable like this.
    That all said, the current timing and situation with Pique does make me wonder if something else is pushing this forward.

    • HandforthParish says:

      Both Messi and Ronaldo, the 2 most famous footballer in the world were found guilty and had suspended sentences and huge fines, in the same region as what the prosecutors are asking for Shakira.
      the Spanish are clearly holding rich people accountable!

  11. Stef says:

    Apparently, the Spanish government is known for this type of over-kill tax claims and they lose 50% of the their own cases. There’s a reason she is fighting this…

    She paid up immediately when they charged her in 2018, plus interest, so these charges laid 3 years later seems like a suspect cash grab.

    To know Shaki is to know she’s an honest person and one of the most philanthropic celebrities on the planet. She gives away upwards of $50 million of her own money each year to the Pies Descalzos to build schools in Columbia, and many other things.

    While I’m all for the rich paying their fair share of taxes, this seems like a shady cash grab.

    • Yasmine says:

      Philanthropy has nothing to do with this. Take Bill & Melinda Gates’ foundation. They give away millions every month, but Bill Gates publicly opposed Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax. Dude complains about taxes & feels it’s his money and right to keep.

      We need to stop thinking rich people have morals bec they give away money. Rich people care about their legacies, not paying their fair share. Shakira is just another rich a-hole evading taxes & hoarding her wealth in off shore accounts.

      • Stef says:

        You can’t compare Bill Gates with Shakira and from your comment, it’s clear you know little about her.

        Bill Gates gives away money for tax breaks, Shakira started her own foundation at 18 to help the poorest kids in her community obtain shoes so they can go to school. You’re comparing apples and oranges.

        She’s rich, yes, but hardly an A-hole. She paid immediately when this came to light 3 years ago. What the Spanish government is doing now is shady.

      • JesMas says:

        She isn’t a billionaire. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t handle her finances and taxes. She probably has money managers that handle her money who probably bungled things up and/or gave bad advice. She has given back to the poorest children in Colombia since she was a teenager. She isn’t an asshole.

  12. Lucía says:

    Should she pay her taxes? Obviously. Is she going to jail for this? No way.

  13. Luna17 says:

    I don’t get why the rich just don’t pay up. Is your lifestyle really going to take that much of a hit it you play fair? When you’re the rich, what’s a few million euros going to taxes? Corporations and wealthy people need to pay up! Im sick of middle and working class people having to pay so much in taxes and here the us we don’t get anything for it- no healthcare, poor education and underpaid teachers, failing infrastructure, etc. I wish the US would get more aggressive with wealthy tax evaders.

  14. jay says:

    if they only awful thing she has done is not paid the spanish government taxes then I say let my girl go! Considering all the shit Spain stole from Latin America, genocides committed and the numerous ways they fucked up Colombia i say she shouldn’t have paid back a cent. Fuck spain.

    • JesMa says:

      Seriously. I would love to see Spain return all the Colombian and Peruvian gold they stripped and stole from our countries. All we got in return was genocide and slavery. Shakira has been helping poor kids in Colombia with her foundation since she was a teenager.

    • Fabiola says:

      I agree. Fu*k Spain. What about all the gold you stole from our people after you killed and enslaved us? Go audit yourselves.

  15. Julia K says:

    You’re right, @jesmas, she doesn’t handle her finances. For quite a while,Pricewaterhouse Cooper has been her accountants and tax advisors according to a recent interview. She has been following their advise and is sure she has not broken the law. She has refused to settle because she says she knows she has done nothing wrong.