Judge finds enough evidence to try Shakira for tax fraud

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Shakira

Shakira will face trial for tax fraud, unless she reaches a last-minute deal with Spain’s public prosecutor. Following a three-year investigation, the judge closed the probe into the singer evading €14.5million in taxes.

Unless Shakira reaches a last-minute deal with Spain’s public prosecutor, she will be tried for tax evasion.  Judge Marco Jesús Juberías closed the three year investigation finding “sufficient evidence” to try her for evading €14.5 million in taxes. 

It is alleged Shakira concealed her wealth via a network of companies based in tax havens. The prosecution is accusing Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, of six tax offenses. The Colombian singer could face jail time if found guilty.

Following Shakira’s money trail 

“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 a court document to which EL PAÍS has had access.

The singer insists she was living in the Bahamas during those years, and only visited Spain “sporadically”. Income tax is not due in the Bahamas. But this claim has been repeatedly debunked by tax inspectors. They closely investigated Shakira’s life in Barcelona, where she lives with FC Barcelona soccer player Gerard Piqué.

According to court documents, Shakira should have paid €14.5 million in Spanish income tax and corporate tax. Instead she used a “series of companies” to hide her wealth. The singer only appeared as the genuine holder “in companies based in territories considered to be tax havens,” the text stated.

Process of evidence collection not innocence or guilt

Judge Juberías backed the arguments of the Spanish Tax Agency and public prosecutor. However, he indicated this phase of the process was just about determining whether or not there was sufficient evidence of tax fraud, not the “innocence or guilt” of Shakira.

The Tax Agency and the singer’s defence team are “diametrically opposed,” said the court documents. As a result, only a trial may determine who is right.

Case centres on Shakira’s place of residence

Shakira has done everything possible to stop the case from going to court. The case centres on the singer’s place of residence. Under Spanish law, a person is a tax resident if they spend 183 days within a year in the country. The Spanish Tax Agency recognises Shakira travelled often for work during the years in question. However, these trips they consider “sporadic absences” given that she returned to her residence in Barcelona. 

The judge also found enough evidence against another defendant in the case, Shakira’s lawyer and tax advisor at the time. However, the public prosecutor asked for the case against him to be dropped, arguing that he did not commit a crime.

The public prosecutor and the other accusations in the case – the State Attorney and the Catalan regional government – must now present a written report outlining the sentence they want to give to Shakira. The singer denies the accusations and claims to be innocent. She has already paid €17 million to the Tax Agency. Sources from her legal team told EL PAÍS she will appeal the judge’s decision.

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