Shakira Could Face Jail Time Over Alleged Tax Fraud

Photo: Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images

On Friday, multiple outlets reported that Shakira — yes, Shakira — is facing jail time in Spain over allegations of tax fraud. How did we get here, you ask? Back in 2018, Spanish prosecutors charged Shakira with tax evasion, alleging that the singer had failed to pay more than $16 million in taxes on income she earned between 2012 and 2014. (The charges arrived nearly a year after Shakira was named in the 2017 Paradise Papers, a sprawling investigation into the ways the rich and famous legally hide money offshore). Shakira categorically denied the prosecutors’ allegations. Central to her case was the question of where she lived between 2012 and 2014: While the singer denied living in Spain during that time, officially listing her residence as the Bahamas, Spanish prosecutors insisted she was claiming the Bahamas for tax purposes (tax rates are significantly lower in the Bahamas, where Shakira bought a private island in 2011). Though Shakira and her ex, Spanish soccer player Gerard Pique, lived in Barcelona together for several years, the singer did not officially list Spain as her residence until 2015.

Now the case is again picking up steam. Earlier this week, representatives for Shakira announced that the singer had decided to go to trial instead of accepting a deal offered by prosecutors to settle allegations that she defrauded Spain’s government, with the singer’s PR firm saying she “trusts her innocence and chooses to leave the issue in the hands of the law.” Reuters has reported that a Spanish prosecutor is seeking an eight-year prison term as well a fine of over $23 million should Shakira be found guilty.

Below, everything to know about the case.

Shakira’s team has called the charges a “smear campaign.”

In November 2017, the Paradise Papers revealed that Shakira had transferred €30 million in musical rights to an offshore firm on the island of Malta. Per Business Insider, Shakira’s lawyer maintained that the tax sheltering was legal, telling a Spanish news site that the offshore firm “fulfills all legal requirements” and that “all of the corresponding information relative to this entity is public and transparent.” Two months later, judicial authorities in Spain announced Shakira was under investigation for tax evasion, with prosecutors officially leveling charges against her in December 2018 and demanding that she pay taxes in Spain on her worldwide income. Representatives for Shakira told People that the singer owed nothing to Spanish tax authorities, arguing that she had paid what she owed in full and that the prosecutor was spearheading a “smear campaign” and using Shakira as a “scapegoat” to frighten other taxpayers.

Shakira rejected prosecutors’ offer to settle the case.

Per the Associated Press, no details were released about the terms of the deal prosecutors offered to Shakira, but on Wednesday, her PR firm announced she had rejected it and planned to go to trial, reiterating that the singer had deposited whatever she allegedly owed with the Spanish Tax Agency and had no outstanding tax debts.

No date has been set for Shakira’s trial.

Per Reuters, Shakira maintains her innocence, denying that she lived in Spain during the two years in question. Representatives for Shakira say she is “fully confident of her innocence” and finds the case to be “a total violation of her rights.” A date has not yet been set for the trial.

Shakira Could Face Jail Time Over Alleged Tax Fraud