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Colombian singer Shakira will have to sit in the dock to answer for six crimes against the Spanish Treasury, for which the Prosecutor’s Office is asking for a total of eight years and two months in prison and a fine of 23.8 million euros.
A judge agreed this Tuesday the opening of the oral trial to the artist to be judged in the Audiencia of Barcelona, accused of defrauding 14.5 million euros between the years 2012 and 2014, pretending she didn’t reside in Spain.
Shakira (Barranquilla, Colombia, 1977) already paid the amount that the Spanish Tax Agency demanded —plus another three million euros in interest— but this doesn’t prevent her from having to sit in the dock at the behest of the Prosecutor’s Office.
Last May, the Barcelona Court of Appeal endorsed the judge’s decision to send the Colombian singer to trial, given the evidence that she resided in Spain “habitually” between 2012 and 2014. First, she lived in the Catalan capital and then in a house in the nearby town of Esplugues de Llobregat that she bought with her ex-partner, FC Barcelona footballer Gerard Piqué, through a company.
According to the public prosecutor, that home constituted the family home of the artist, whose stays outside Spain during that time were for “professional reasons, with a very short duration,” except for the season in which she participated in U.S. TV show “The Voice” (61 days in 2012, 118 in 2013 and 117 in 2014).
The prosecution maintains that, having resided in Spain for more than 183 days a year, Shakira “was a tax resident in Spain and had the obligation to pay tax on all of her worldwide income,” both with respect to personal income tax (IRPF) and wealth tax.
To avoid doing so, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, Shakira “used a corporate structure,” based in the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Malta, Panama, and Luxembourg, in order to hide her income and assets.
The prosecution argues that the singer’s “plan” consisted of her companies formally appearing as owners of the income, while she only appeared “in last place and some companies based in tax havens” to which most of her income went.
Also, advised by several professionals, in 2008, 2012 and 2013 the singer reached agreements with the Luxembourg tax authorities, the so-called Tax Ruling, “to set specific and privileged conditions of taxation” in these years, says the Spanish Public Prosecutor’s Office.
These agreements, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, gave rise to a “minimum taxation” of only 2% of the gross income generated, allowing the transfer to companies or accounts of the singer the bulk of her income.
The last Tax Ruling agreements were signed when she was already living habitually in Spain, but “at no time did he inform the Spanish tax authorities of these agreements,” the Public Prosecutor’s Office assures.
The singer’s legal team has held several talks with the accusers to reach a settlement, but Shakira rejected the offers.