By Kendall McElroy
Eight years in prison and a $24 million fine is what Columbian pop musician, Shakira, could be facing with up to 6 charges for allegations of tax fraud against the Spanish government. After denying an opportunity at a settlement with Spanish authorities, Shakira maintains her innocence and denies any wrongdoing.
Between 2012 and 2014, while in a relationship with FC Barcelona footballer Gerald Pique, Spanish authorities allege she failed to pay upwards of $15.5 million during her time as a resident of Spain. However, she rebutts that during her relationship, she never resided permanently in Spain but would visit sporadically while living full time in the Bahamas. However this charge specifically only accounts for some of her alleged crimes.
Shakira has also come under suspicion of operating her offshore businesses in tax havens, or jurisdictions with low to zero taxes. An investigative report done by Paradise Paper revealed 13.4 million confidential financial records. This report revealed multiple celebrities who had shifted their profits to offshore Shell companies to skirt their tax liability. Among these files is a record of Shakira’s use of the small island of Malta to route profits and music rights worth up to $30 million through. Another release of financial files showed the popstars links with other corporations in Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the British Virgin Isles, all notorious tax havens.
Despite the allegations, Shakira, her legal team, and her publicity team has vehemently pushed against these charges. She relays to Elle Magazine, “I’ve paid everything they claimed I owed, even before they filed a lawsuit. So as of today, I owe zero to them. And finally, I was advised by one of the four biggest tax specialist firms in the world, PricewaterhouseCoopers, so I was confident that I was doing things correctly and transparently from day one.” Furthermore, she denies that the time she spent in Spain was not long lasting enough to qualify her as a tax paying citizen, though the Spanish government argues that she spent at least half 6 months each year in her shared home in Barcelona . She argues that she was, “busy fulfilling my professional commitments around the world.”
Additionally, Shakira further claims that the Spanish government is targeting her, as well as other Spanish citizens in a corrupt attempt to dredge up additional tax money. In an interview with EW, she explains, “It is well known that the Spanish tax authorities do this often not only with celebrities like me, it also happens unjustly to the regular taxpayer. It’s just their style. But I’m confident that I have enough proof to support my case and that justice will prevail in my favor.”
The international pop star seems to be in one of the darkest moments of her life, herself as well as her team are working tirelessly to wipe clean her name and to rid her of the allegations thrown at her by the Spanish government. While in the throes of a trial, it’s impossible to predict how it will play out.