Shakira struck a last-minute plea deal in her years-long tax fraud case

For five years now, the Spanish tax authorities have been on Shakira’s ass. They’ve opened up several investigations, charged her with tax fraud in several jurisdictions, made public statements about Shakira, and it all had the feel of a targeted campaign. Especially after Shakira gave a sort of epic interview last year, where she explained, in detail, why her relationship with Gerard Pique fell apart and why she has every confidence in her accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers. She talked a lot about how she was sick and tired of being the latest celebrity targeted by the Spanish tax authorities and she promised to fight back with her extensive record-keeping. But she moved to Miami and she’s basically like “nah, I don’t want to deal with this sh-t anymore,” so she made some kind of plea deal.

After having maintained her innocence for nearly five years, pop star Shakira struck a last-minute deal on the opening day of her tax fraud trial in Barcelona to avoid the risk of going to prison.

Shakira told the presiding magistrate, José Manuel del Amo, on Monday that she accepted the agreement reached with prosecutors. She answered “yes” to confirm her acknowledgment of six counts of failing to pay the Spanish government 14.5 million euros (about $15.8 million) in taxes between 2012 and 2014. The trial, which was expected to include more than 100 witnesses over several weeks, was instead called off after just eight minutes.

Under the deal, Shakira is to receive a suspended three-year sentence and to pay a fine of 7.3 million euros ($8 million) in addition to the previously unpaid taxes and interest. She will pay another fine of 432,000 euros ($472,000) in exchange for having her prison sentence waived.

However, she now has it on her legal record that she was found guilty of tax fraud, which could affect another pending tax case.

The fraud allegations had hinged on where Shakira, now 46, lived during 2012-14. Prosecutors in Barcelona alleged the Colombian singer spent more than half of that period in Spain and therefore should have paid taxes on her worldwide income there even though her official residence was still in the Bahamas. Tax rates are much lower in the Bahamas than in Spain.

Shakira said in a statement provided by her public relations firm that she had wanted to fight on but put her family, career and peace of mind first.

“I have made the decision to finally resolve this matter with the best interest of my kids at heart who do not want to see their mom sacrifice her personal well-being in this fight,” she said. “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.”

[From The Associated Press]

I’m kind of bummed that she didn’t fight, which is what she promised to do. She made the Spanish tax authorities sound corrupt and desperate and she made it sound like she would fight the good fight. But I also understand why she would just feel like putting an end to her Spain chapter. She lived in Spain for years to support Pique and all he did was cheat on her and treat her like garbage. She wanted a new life and a new chapter. I mean, I wouldn’t want to give up $24 million for a situation I found so dodgy, but maybe this speaks to what kind of extensive wealth Shakira really has.

Photos courtesy of Cover Images.

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23 Responses to “Shakira struck a last-minute plea deal in her years-long tax fraud case”

  1. Karla says:

    As you pointed out: She lived for years in Spain. So She should have paid taxes there. If She had proof of her spending the majority of her time in her official residence, the Bahamas, she would not have taken the deal.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. It’s terrible what she had to deal with when it comes to Piquet, but if you live in a country, pay the taxes. No sympathy for her when it comes to that.

    • Amy Bee says:

      Her official residence is the Bahamas only so she could pay little to no taxes. No sympathy for her.

  2. Pinkosaurus says:

    Shakira had to pay to dump Pique and her terrible in-laws and now paid $8 million to divorce Spain. I hope she is able to be free from that period of her life and enjoy whatever comes next. Is her ex still dating the jam stealer?

  3. Amy Bee says:

    Rich people pay your taxes.

  4. ML says:

    I like Shakira and loved her setting a witch out on her balcony and learning about her jam preferences…BUT she clearly was a tax cheat and should have paid her taxes. The Spanish government was clear about all the carefully obtained evidence of her being in Spain when she claimed she was elsewhere. And she probably fought them because she either thought they’d back down or because she didn’t realize how airtight the case was. No millionaire ever says they’re going to settle and admit guilt, especially with another case pending, just to get on with their lives. Her time in Spain might not have been as good as it could have been, and her ex is an a-hole, but she’s rightfully being treated as a white-collar criminal here.

  5. Nlopez says:

    I like Shakira, but I think she’s guilty. I remember her name came up a few yrs ago when some papers came out talking about all the rich people who were funneling their money into off shore accounts. I believe Elizabeth II was on that list too. I wish I could remember what those papers were called.

  6. Mighty Mouse says:

    I like Shakira, but 15 million euros (Fine + unpaid taxes) is a lot of money to throw around if you’re innocent, and couldn’t be bothered with the time involved to defend your name..
    Seems they had a solid case with over 100 witnesses..?

    • Mimi says:

      The 100 witnesses would be from both sides. And she had already paid the $14 million when they first said they were going to file the criminal case (probably hoping to avoid being charged). So she would only pay the $8 million now, plus the fine and whatever is imposed in her new tax fraud case. I can imagine the tax authorities filed the new one because of the egregiousness of her continued fraudulent behavior (continuing to use another country as her official residence even when she was clearly living in Spain and funneling money offshore).

      If she listed her official residence in the Bahamas but was never seen there (I have NEVER seen pap pictures of Shakira in the Bahamas, even on vacation), that’s de facto proof of fraud. Merely having a home and/or paying the bills on the home is not enough. She has to show where she actually lays her head, where do the minors go to school? Students, for instance, who are at college 8 months out of the year, are most often still legal residents of their parents’ home.

  7. Bumblebee says:

    The two years this court case is about (2012 – 14) she spent half her time touring (so multiple countries), and the rest of the time in the Bahamas and Spain. From 2015 on, she stopped touring as much, because her boys started school. So, as a resident of Spain, she paid her taxes from 2015 onward.
    Spain has a reputation for suing foreign celebrities for taxes. Before Shakira it was soccer players.

    • Ace says:

      Because they didn’t pay their taxes. Just because they can pay a lot of money to accountants to try to hide their money doesn’t mean they are in the right to do so.

      And it’s not all rich celebrities. Or just foreign ones. Just because you personally don’t hear about Normal Spanish Person or Famous Spanish Person who didn’t pay their taxes doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Shakira is going to make international headlines but Bárbara Rey is not.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Nah, she paid because she was going to lose.

    It’s really frustrating following the reporting on this here because all the uninformed accusations towards Spanish tax authorities. And I wonder if Shakira had been accused by the IRS instead if the pov would be just that she should pay her taxes.

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      Totally agree. Of course she said she was innocent. She plead guilty on the eve of trial because they had a strong case & because there were even bigger fines & actual prison time on the table.

      It’s not difficult to prove a person was in Spain for half the year–it’s literally just adding up the dates. And if you were, you owe taxes. Saying your “official residence” is the Bahamas means nothing. It’s like Michael Scott declaring bankruptcy.

  9. SarahCS says:

    Whatever the ins and outs of this case, its reminding us of the very different world that the mega rich live in. I’d love to ‘live’ in the Bahamas and pay no tax but if everyone did that how wold countries function? Taxing citizens is essential and it should be that the more you have the more you pay but after a certain level of wealth that goes in the opposite direction and in my view that is fundamentally wrong.

    Making the rich richer the benefit the poors (‘trickle down economics) has been shown to be a myth. It just makes the rich richer.

  10. Fancyhat13 says:

    She settled all the previous cases ages ago so I’m more likely to believe that she wasn’t guilty here. Spain had to prove she spent 183 days each year in Spain, not that she spent the majority of her time in the Bahamas. She owns part of a private island in the Bahamas and does spend time there and has recorded parts of her albums at the studio there.

  11. Concern Fae says:

    I had a friend with a case like this. It was unclear from the law whether time spent on business trips where he came from and returned to country X, where his job was based counted as time spent in country X.

    It can both be true that your very reputable tax firm is telling you something is legal, and that country’s tax department saying the law is something very different.

  12. J.Ferber says:

    I have no opinion on her tax situation, but paying money to get rid of a problem is a very old trick of the very rich. I wish I could do that, too. I’m more concerned about her relationship with Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat. Is he dating her or not? He’s a great player, a funny guy and very easy on the eyes. But I wish he’d get really serious with someone and stop flitting from one woman to another. Fall in love, bro! I’d love Shakira and Jimmy to have a serious relationship. Come on, man! Basketball isn’t everything!

    • NaTalia says:

      I am sure she thought she was innocent. Price Waterhouse found enough to say she needed to settle. I am sure she told Price Waterhouse that is not the case and they advised her it was the case.
      I made big mistakes on my taxes this year. I didn’t think it was fair. I asked for numbers to be ran again. The numbers came out the same. i paid it. It was a process. I had a tax bill not a fraud record. Not once did the IRS treat me badly. They were accommodating and gracious. I think she spent a lot of time arguing when she could have settled this quiet and fair to both parties. She spent more money arguing about this than just paying the bill.

  13. Palmasan says:

    Agree with all the other commenters. Spanish tax authorities are very thorough and don’t target in particular foreign celebrities, but maybe those foreign celebrities think their tricks in other countries (US?) will work there because of their fame. Rich people should pay taxes proportionally and if that was the case everywhere (namely the US, I’m thinking Trump paying nothing for years), maybe there would be better health and educational services everywhere.
    Social welfare should come from the government, and not depend on charity or rich people’s donations, and everyone should contribute to those expenses based on their earnings. Maybe it’s a mentality thing (US loves success and money and is much more individualistic than Europe), but if you have a lot, give back, and pay your full taxes (you can deduct your charity contributions), but tax fraud from the rich means eventually less or worse social services for the majority of working people.
    Also, as usual, I see a double standard in this site. We have the favourites that cannot do any wrong (Meghan , Shakira, Angelina) and the disgraced that cannot do anything right (Scarlet, Taylor). I know this is gossip, but is disappointing to see you falling in the same trap, just the other way. Life is nuanced and absolutely nobody is perfect or perfectly right all the time. Shakira might have had a bad time with her divorce, but she also tried to cheat taxes, and if that case wasn’t solid she would have never settled, especially now that she’s in another country and doesn’t have to see it played in the media real time.

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