Pop star Shakira agreed to a deal with Spanish authorities on the first day of a tax fraud trial in Barcelona on Monday, avoiding the risk of a prison sentence.
Shakira told presiding judge José Manuel del Amo that she accepted the agreement reached with the prosecution. She answered “yes,” confirming her admission of six cases in which the Spanish government failed to award 14.5 million euros (about $15.8 million) in taxes between 2012 and 2014 pay.
As part of the deal, Shakira will receive a suspended sentence of three years and a fine of 7 million euros ($7.6 million).
Instead, the trial, which would have involved more than 100 witnesses in the following weeks, was canceled after just eight minutes.
Prosecutors said in July that they would seek a prison sentence of eight years and two months and a fine of 24 million euros ($26 million) for the singer, who won fans worldwide with her hits in Spanish and English across various music genres has.
The case depended on where Shakira, now 46, lived during that time. Prosecutors in Barcelona allege that the Colombian singer spent more than half of that time in Spain and therefore should have paid taxes on her worldwide income in the country, even though her official residence was still in the Bahamas. Tax rates in the Bahamas are much lower than in Spain.
“This was a difficult decision that took a long time, a difficult decision motivated by her desire to focus on raising her children and her professional career,” defense attorney Miriam Company told reporters. “Her legal team had prepared for trial and was confident we could prove her innocence, but circumstances changed and (Shakira) decided to accept the deal.”
The multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy winner waved and blew a kiss to a small group of bystanders before entering the courthouse. She sat just in front of the jury, flanked by teams of prosecutors on one side and the defense on the other.
Shakira rejected an offer from prosecutors to settle her case in July 2022, stating through her Spanish PR firm Llorente y Cuenca that she “believes in her innocence and chooses to leave the matter to the law.” The details of this possible deals have not been made public.
Shakira was named in the “Paradise Papers” leaks, which detailed the offshore tax arrangements of numerous high-profile individuals, including music stars such as Madonna and U2’s Bono.
Shakira’s PR company had previously stated that she had already paid off all her debts and an additional 3 million euros (approximately $3.2 million) in interest.
Shakira’s defense team, Barcelona firm Molins Defensa Penal, said in November 2022 that she did not spend more than 60 days a year in the country during the period in question, adding that she should have spent half the year in Spain to be considered a tax resident. Her defense argued that she was away from Barcelona for an extended period of time during a world tour in 2011 and then spent significant time in the United States, where she served as a judge on the NBC television music talent show The Voice.
Spanish prosecutors disagreed, and investigating judge Marco Juberías wrote in 2021 at the conclusion of a three-year investigation into the prosecution that he believed there was “sufficient evidence of criminality” to bring the case to trial. Shakira defended her innocence when questioned by Juberías in 2019.
Last year she lost an appeal to have the case dismissed.
According to her defense team, Shakira established her tax residency in Spain in 2014, when her eldest child was attending school in Barcelona, as she would spend more time with her family in the country.
In Spain, an examining magistrate conducts an initial investigation and decides to either dismiss the case or send it to trial. A court can waive prison time for first-time offenders if they are sentenced to less than two years in prison.
In a separate investigation, Spanish prosecutors in September charged Shakira with alleged tax evasion of €6.7 million on her 2018 income. They accused her of using an offshore company based in a tax haven to to avoid paying taxes.
Spain has cracked down on soccer stars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo over the last decade for failing to pay their full taxes. The former Barcelona and Real Madrid stars were found guilty of tax evasion but both avoided prison after their sentences were suspended.
Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, has two children, Milan and Sasha, with Barcelona soccer star Gerard Piqué. The couple lived together in Barcelona before ending their 11-year relationship last year. Since then she has lived in Miami.
After her triumph at the Latin Grammy Awards gala in Seville on Thursday, Shakira thanked her fans in Spain for “being with me in good times and bad.”