The Barcelona Provincial Court on Thursday dismissed Colombian singer Shakira’s appeal to have a tax fraud case dismissed, paving the way for a trial after a judge had previously concluded there was enough evidence to suggest the pop star may have avoided her fiscal obligations in Spain.
The case first made headlines back in December 2018 after Spanish prosecutors charged the singer with failing to pay 14.5 million euros in taxes on income earned between 2012 and 2014. Shakira, 45, denied any wrongdoing when she testified in June 2019.
At the heart of the case is the question of the singer’s residence. Despite having an official residence in the Bahamas, prosecutors allege the artist to have lived in Catalonia between 2012 and 2014 and therefore should have paid taxes in Spain.
Judges from the Barcelona provincial court consider there to be six tax offences regarding the personal income tax (IRPF) and the wealth tax, despite the defendant claiming she followed experts’ recommendations.
In its decision issued Thursday, the Spanish court said the evidence suggests Shakira was ‘a habitual resident in Spain’, adding that documentation failed to substantiate her residence for tax purposes in another country.
The court upheld a July ruling in which Spanish Judge Marco Juberías wrote that his three-year probe found there existed ‘sufficient evidence of criminality’ for the case to go to trial.
Shakira’s public relations firm said on Thursday that she had immediately paid what she owed once she was informed of the debt by Spain’s Tax Office.
‘Shakira’s conduct on tax matters has always been impeccable in all the countries where she has had to pay taxes, and she has trusted and faithfully followed the recommendations of the best specialists and expert advisors,’ the PR firm said in a statement. Shakira’s legal team will continue to ‘defend her innocence’, according to the statement.
The singer faces a possible fine and a prison sentence, if found guilty of tax evasion. However, a judge can waive prison time for first-time offenders if they are sentenced to less than two years behind bars.
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