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Shakira strikes deal in Spanish tax evasion case, avoids jail time

By Jake Beardslee · November 20, 2023

In brief…

  • Shakira reached deal with prosecutors in Spanish tax fraud trial, avoiding potential jail time
  • She agreed to suspended 3-year sentence and fine of 7 million euros
  • Prosecutors had accused her of failing to pay 14.5 million euros in taxes from 2012-2014
  • Case centered on her fiscal residency status during that period when she claims to have lived in Bahamas
Shakira settled tax fraud accusations in Spain by accepting a suspended sentence and fine after prosecutors alleged she failed to pay over 14 million euros in taxes from 2012-2014 and should have been considered a Spanish resident.  Andres Arranz/Wikimedia

Pop superstar Shakira reached a deal with Spanish prosecutors on Monday to settle accusations that she failed to pay 14.5 million euros ($15.8 million) in taxes between 2012 and 2014. The agreement was made on the opening day of her tax fraud trial in Barcelona, allowing her to avoid potential prison time.

The 45-year-old singer told the presiding judge that she accepted the plea bargain worked out with authorities. Under the terms, Shakira will receive a suspended three-year sentence and must pay a fine of 7 million euros ($7.6 million). With this sudden resolution after just eight minutes, the highly anticipated trial including over 100 witnesses will no longer proceed.

Prosecutors initially sought an 8 year prison term and 24 million euro fine for Shakira, alleging she spent more than half the time between 2012-2014 in Spain and should have paid taxes in the country on her worldwide income. Shakira’s defense has contended she did not spend more than 60 days a year in Spain during that period, and had already paid what she owed plus 3 million euros in interest.

The case centers on Shakira’s fiscal residency status during the time period and whether she was obligated to pay Spanish taxes even though her official residence was in the Bahamas, where tax rates are lower. Shakira also appeared in the “Paradise Papers” leaks exposing offshore tax arrangements of high-profile figures.

Shakira, who has sold millions of records in Spanish and English, waved to fans as she entered the Barcelona courthouse Monday morning. Her acceptance of the deal avoids the risk of potential imprisonment if convicted. She had previously rejected a settlement offer from prosecutors last year, maintaining her innocence.