Shakira Faces Tax Fraud Trial in Spain After Rejecting Plea Deal
Colombian pop singer Shakira Mebarak has rejected a plea deal offered by Spanish prosecutors that would have let her avoid trial on charges of evading €14.5 million in taxes.
In 2018 prosecutors indicted the singer, who is known by her first name, for tax fraud, alleging that she claimed to be a resident of the Bahamas when she was actually residing in Spain during 2012-2014. In May the Barcelona High Court ruled that there was sufficient evidence for her to go on trial.
On July 27 Shakira’s lawyers turned down an offer made by the Barcelona prosecutor’s office. El Pais, Spain’s largest newspaper, reported that the deal would have required Shakira to plead guilty to tax fraud in exchange for a prison sentence of no more than two years. Under Spanish law, first-time offenders normally receive probation for sentences of shorter durations.
In a July 2021 pretrial hearing, an investigator for the Spanish tax agency challenged claims by Shakira's lawyers that the singer was not a tax resident of Spain before 2015. The investigator told the court there was no evidence that Shakira spent any time in the Bahamas after 2012 and that she was in Spain for at least the 183 days required under law to establish residency for a tax year.
Although Shakira’s lawyers said she rejected the prosecutors’ offer, they said there is still a possibility that a plea deal can be reached before trial. Her legal team said Shakira is confident of her innocence and believes that her rights have been violated by the prosecutor’s office.