Shakira Tax-Fraud Case Moves Forward as Judge Finds ‘Sufficient Evidence’ for Trial

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Shakira performing live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo Credit: Andres.Arranz

A Spanish judge has found “sufficient evidence” to move forward with a multimillion-dollar tax-fraud case involving “Hips Don’t Lie” artist Shakira.

Outlets including Madrid-headquartered El País just recently reported that the years-running tax-evasion case against Shakira – who, according to prosecutors, has “regularly” lived in Spain since 2012 – appears likely to head to trial. The 44-year-old has been in a relationship with FC Barcelona footballer Gerard Piqué for over a decade, and incidentally, a Spanish court in 2019 ordered Piqué to cough up €2.1 million ($2.49 million at the present exchange rate) in unpaid taxes.

Regarding Shakira’s purported tax evasion, however, the Spanish Tax Agency (STA) in December of 2018 formally accused the three-time Grammy winner of failing to pay a staggering €14.5 million ($17.19 million) in taxes between 2012 and 2014. Levying six corresponding charges against her, officials maintained that Shakira had “effectively remained in Spain” on a full-time basis, notwithstanding several trips abroad for work.

Under Spanish law, individuals are considered tax residents if they spend over half the year in the nation of nearly 50 million residents. Emphasizing the above-noted work trips and Shakira’s purported residence in the Bahamas (where she owns a home; the nation of approximately 400,000 citizens doesn’t levy an income tax), the singer and her legal team have pushed back against the charges and the allegedly owed payment.

Authorities have also claimed that Shakira used “a series of companies” to conceal her assets and avoid paying taxes, but importantly, the STA hasn’t proven that the “Girl Like Me” creator resided in Spain for the 183 days necessary to trigger tax residency, according to El País.

“Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll stopped paying taxes in Spain during the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, even though she had a duty to do so as her tax residence was here,” Judge Jesús Juberías wrote in explaining the initially mentioned “sufficient evidence” for a tax-fraud trial.

Even with the strong possibility of a criminal trial (and, in turn, probation or jail), it remains to be seen whether the parties will be able to reach a last-minute settlement, given that the legal struggle has already dragged on for the better part of three years. Furthermore, while Shakira hadn’t commented publicly on this latest development at the time of publishing, her attorneys informed media outlets in Spain that they plan to appeal the ruling.

Towards 2021’s start, Shakira sold her entire publishing catalog to UK-based song-investment fund Hipgnosis. Though the transaction’s financial terms haven’t been publicly revealed, the company reportedly pays well above market value for IP, and it’s possible that the windfall could factor into a future tax-related dispute with authorities.