Spanish prosecutors have filed tax fraud charges against Colombian music star Shakira, claiming that she avoided paying €14.5m in taxes between 2012 and 2014 by using shell companies to hide income she received while a Spanish resident.
The charges were filed in the Barcelona suburb of Esplugues de Llobregat, where Shakira lives with the FC Barcelona star Gerard Piqué.
According to prosecutors, Shakira did not pay taxes on income she received through 14 shell companies in the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Malta, Luxembourg, and Panama while she was living in Spain. According to the complaint, the shell companies were used “with the sole objective of hiding the income and assets of the defendant from the Treasury”.
Spanish law holds that resident who spend 183 days or more in the country must pay taxes on their worldwide income in Spain. According to prosectors, Shakira claimed “on many occasions” that her tax residence was in the Bahamas while in fact she had not spent any time in the Bahamas between 2012 and 2014. She spent 243 days in Spain in 2012, 212 days in 2013, and 244 days in 2014, prosecutors say.
In recent years, Spanish prosecutors have filed a series of similar complaints against foreign football stars playing in the country. In July, former Real Madrid football star Cristiano Ronaldo agreed to pay €18.9m in unpaid taxes, fines and interest, and accept a two-year suspended jail sentence.
And in 2016, FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi was sentenced to 21 months in prison by a Spanish court after being found guilty of three counts of tax fraud. Mr Messi’s father Jorge, who acts as his manager, was also sentenced to 21 months in prison. Mr Messi was also ordered to pay a fine of €2.09m, and his father a fine of €1.6m. The jail sentences were suspended.
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