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Shakira to go on trial in Spain for tax fraud

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Shakira in the dock in Spanish tax fraud case

Just days after her success at the Latin Grammys, Colombian pop idol Shakira is set to go on trial in Barcelona on Monday for allegedly cheating Spain’s tax office out of 14.5 million euros.

Prosecutors are seeking a jail term of eight years and two months and a fine of nearly 24 million euros ($24 million dollars) for Shakira, who now lives in Miami with her two sons, Milan and Sasha.

She has denied any wrongdoing and turned down a plea deal with prosecutors, paving the way for the trial, which is set to get underway on Monday at 10:00 a.m. (0900 GMT).

The case centres on where the singer, whose hit singles include “Hips Don’t Lie”, “Whenever, Wherever,” and the 2010 World Cup song “Waka Waka”, lived between 2012 and 2014.

Prosecutors allege Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll—dubbed the Queen of Latin Pop—spent more than half of that period in Spain and should have paid taxes in the country.

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They say she moved to Spain after her relationship with FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique became public in 2011, but maintained official tax residency in the Bahamas until 2015.

In its indictment, the prosecution claims that Shakira “used a set of companies” based in tax havens “with the intention of not paying” tax in Spain.

Hairdresser Payments 

Shakira’s lawyers say that until 2014, she was leading a “nomadic life” and earning most of her money from international tours, and that she only moved permanently to Barcelona just before the birth of her second son in January 2015.

The high-profile trial is expected to hear from nearly 120 witnesses and to run until December 14.

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While the singer is expected to testify during the opening session of the trial, she may request permission from the court to not be present at the remaining hearings.

Even without her presence, details of her private life will likely emerge during the proceedings, since Spanish prosecutors carried out a meticulous investigation to prove their case.

They interviewed her neighbours, tracked her images on social networks, checked her payments at hairdressers and even the health clinic she attended during her pregnancy to prove their accusation.

 ‘Not a UN Diplomat’ 

Questions about the singer’s finances have been raised before. The diva was named in the 2021 “Pandora Papers” leaks, which revealed the wealth and tax avoidance strategies of the global rich, in her case relating to her residence in the Bahamas.

The trial comes after Shakira had a big night at the Latin Grammy Awards held in Seville in southern Spain on Thursday, where she performed twice and picked up three awards, including for song of the year and best pop song for her collaboration with Argentine DJ Bizarrap on “Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53”.

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The track takes swipes at her former partner Pique — the couple broke up last year after a decade-long relationship — and includes a reference to being left with a “debt to the tax office”. It has been played almost 1.5 billion times on Spotify and YouTube.

“People on my team tried to convince me to change the lyrics, but I’m not a UN diplomat. I am an artist and, above all, a woman,” Shakira said in an interview published in Spanish celebrity magazine ¡Hola! in which she made no reference to her looming trial.

One of the highlights of the Latin Grammys was her rendition of her ballad “Acróstico”. Wearing a glittering gold high-cut gown adorned with an image of the Virgin Mary, the singer performed the song, with her two sons which she had with Pique appearing in a pre-recorded video on screen to join her in singing it.

 

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AFP

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