Shakira Settles Criminal Tax Fraud Case for $7.6M

tax fraudIn a last-minute deal, Columbian pop star Shakira settled her case involving criminal tax charges brought by Spanish prosecutors.


The tax troubles of Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll (“Shakira”) stem from the amount of time that she spent in Spain during the years 2012 through 2014. Like many countries, Spain has a residence threshold. If an individual spends 183 or more days in Spain in a year, they are considered a resident and liable for the payment of personal income taxes. 


During the years in question, Shakira claimed the Bahamas as her residence. In 2015, Shakira settled in Barcelona with her longtime paramour Futbol Club Barcelona player Gerard Pique. In 2018, Spanish authorities alleged the singer owed approximately $13.9M U.S. for residing in Spain between 2012 and 2014. Shakira said she had paid additional taxes to Spain and that she could prove her time in the country did not meet the residency requirement as claimed.


Complicating the picture for Shakira was the exposure of her offshore tax dealings in the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers—two document troves that detailed hidden offshore tax dealings of celebrities, politicians, and the wealthy around the world. The leaked documents revealed Shakira was associated with companies registered in the Netherlands, the British Virgin Islands, Malta, and Luxembourg. The use of shell and offshore companies to move and hold wealth is common, but added to the explanations required by the award-winning singer to clear her name.


In July, 2022, Shakira was ordered to stand trial on six charges of tax fraud. As she continued to deny the allegations and refused to settle the matter, Spanish authorities asked for a $24 million fine and a prison sentence of eight years if the singer was convicted. More than 100 witnesses were slated to be called during the trial.


So, what happened? To avoid the possibility of prison, Shakira agreed to a deal offered by prosecutors just eight minutes into the proceeding. Shakira confirmed the criminal counts against her in court, acknowledged she has been convicted of tax fraud, and agreed to pay $7.6M (in U.S. dollars) and receive a suspended three-year prison sentence.


Shakira has won back precious time with her family and career, but there is trouble ahead. In September of this year, Spanish authorities lodged charges against her for tax evasion involving her income in 2018. And on it goes.


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