Shakira settles tax evasion suit with Spanish authorities, avoids trial and possible jail time

Shakira lors du 75e festival de Cannes le 25 mai 2022. (Photo by Laurent KOFFEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Colombian superstar Shakira settled her tax evasion suit with the Spanish authorities on Monday (local time), avoiding a trial that was due to start that day.

The Grammy-winning singer admitted the charges against her and agreed to pay the amount owed in full and an additional fine, according to a statement released by the Barcelona prosecutor's office on Monday afternoon.

She paid a total of €17.5 million (US$19 million), an amount composed of the taxes she owed plus interest, as well as a fine of €7.3 million (US$8 million), the statement said.

Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of more than eight years in prison if Shakira were convicted on all six counts of tax fraud. But the settlement said that, instead of prison, she would pay additional fines of about US$437 a day for a three-year sentence, or just over US$470,000.

Monday's court proceedings lasted about 10 minutes, during which time the judge announced a last-minute agreement submitted by all parties to avoid trial. Shakira was asked by the judge if she was aware of the deal and the latest fines agreed, to which the singer responded "yes."

A statement released by the singer's communication team shortly afterward announced her lawyers reached an agreement to end a tax case that covered the years between 2012 and 2014.

Shakira said in a statement that she "was ready to face trial and defend my innocence," but came "to the conclusion that it is not a triumph to win if the price is that (they) steal so many years of life."

"I had two options: keep fighting until the end, taking my peace of mind and that of my children, stop making songs, albums and tours, without being able to enjoy my career and the things I like; or agree, close and leave this chapter of my life behind, looking forward (to the future)," she added.

Spanish prosecutors had alleged the Colombian singer failed to pay personal income and wealth tax between 2012 and 2014, currently valued at about US$15.6 million.

In a 2021 ruling, Judge Marco Jesús Juberías said Shakira lived in Spain for more than 200 days in each of those three years, making her liable to pay taxes.

Spain's tax code states that anyone who resides in the country for at least six months and a day – or 183 days – in a given year is liable to pay taxes.

The star disputed that, calling the accusations "false" in an interview with Elle magazine in September 2022.

"First of all, I didn't spend 183 days per year at that time at all. I was busy fulfilling my professional commitments around the world. Second, I've paid everything they claimed I owed, even before they filed a lawsuit. So as of today, I owe zero to them," the artist told the magazine, adding she would have her day in court as "a matter of principle."