Three "yeses" and one "thank you". With these brief words, Shakira accepted on Monday that she defrauded the Spanish Treasury of 14.5 million euros between 2012 and 2014. After weeks of negotiations, the Colombian singer has finally agreed with the accusations – the Prosecutor's Office, the State Attorney's Office and the Generalitat – a three-year prison sentence (which she will not serve) and the payment of a fine of 7.3 million euros. In exchange for accepting the facts and paying the defrauded fee (it has already been returned), the agreement has substantially reduced the sentences: the Prosecutor's Office initially asked for eight years and two months in prison and a fine of 23.5 million. The agreement also provides for the replacement of the prison sentence with the payment of another fine, of 432,000 euros.
Magistrate José Manuel del Amo has issued the sentence, which, as it is the result of an agreement, is now final. There is no possibility of appeal and, in addition, there will be no more sessions of the trial and Shakira will be able to return immediately to Miami with her children. As planned, the criminal proceedings were going to air the day-to-day life of the artist in Barcelona during the years in which she had a romantic relationship with former Barça defender Gerard Piqué. Up to 117 witnesses who had personal and professional dealings with her at the time were scheduled to testify.
The need to avoid such public exposure and to minimize the risk of imprisonment has led her to accept the pact. "I have to choose my battles and the most important one now is to do everything for my children to live a full life and focus on what is really important: to see them grow up and spend time with them, without subjecting them to the anguish of seeing their mother in a criminal trial with the wear and tear that entails," he said in a statement that his team sent just as Shakira accepted the penalty for tax fraud.
"There we go," Shakira told reporters as she entered the Barcelona courthouse at 10:00 a.m., the scheduled start time of the trial. Outside, on the street, the police had deployed an extensive security device for nothing: no fans have shown up on Passeig de Lluís Companys to greet her or give her support, unlike some officials of the judicial building, who have poked their heads out to see her arrive wearing sunglasses and dressed all in pink. The session lasted just 10 minutes, which the magistrate needed to report that an agreement had been reached. Shakira sat on the bench and stood in front of the microphone just to say that she was aware of the agreement (she had already signed it), that she accepted it and to say thank you.
With the agreement, Shakira admits that, between 2012 and 2014, she was a tax resident in Spain and had to pay her taxes here. That has been, since the beginning of the investigation, the issue under discussion. The singer always defended that in that period she was a nomad who traveled all over the world giving concerts and that her only visits to Barcelona, always sporadic, were to visit Piqué. The Tax Agency carried out an intense investigation by contacting service providers and professionals who assisted Shakira at that stage, and concluded that she spent more than half of the year in Spain, a necessary condition for a citizen to be considered a tax resident.
The investigation was based on the collection of witnesses who, starting on Monday, were going to parade through the courtroom to give an account of the singer's life at that time. It will no longer be necessary with an agreement that specifies that the fine will be 50% of the defrauded quota and that applies the mitigating factor of reparation of the damage, since it had previously paid the 14.5 million euros plus interest. There had been attempts at a pact before, but they failed. The first, in the summer of 2022. The terms were already very similar to those that have been sealed on Monday: Shakira would accept a prison sentence for non-compliance, assume the facts and pay a fine. If the negotiations did not bear fruit, it was in part because of the insistence of his entourage that he fight because he could win the case. The artist ended up slamming the door on the Prosecutor's Office and accusing it of being "intransigent". A few days later, the Public Prosecutor's Office filed its indictment.
The talks were frozen. But, as the trial date (set for November 20) approached, and especially after her breakup with Piqué, Shakira went after the pact again. He changed lawyers and hired the criminal lawyer Pau Molins, who had won a very similar case, also on the status of tax resident of a client: the former motorcyclist Sito Pons. With the intention of wiping the slate clean, Molins returned to negotiations with the Attorney General's Office this summer, but they did not materialize either. Everything pointed to a trial until, a few weeks ago, negotiations resumed.
Despite the pact, Shakira's problems with the justice system in Spain are not over. The Prosecutor's Office filed a second complaint for alleged fraud in the Treasury in 2018. He accuses her of defrauding six million euros by using a "network of companies" to "simulate" the transfer of rights to shell companies. The ministry has asked Interpol to notify the artist, who resides in Miami, of the complaint and the summons to testify as investigated for two tax crimes.
The singer Shakira, during the trial held this Monday in the Court of Barcelona.Albert García
A Covenant for Children
The public statement sent by the artist's team is partly in contradiction with what was agreed in the courtroom. At the trial, Shakira takes her guilt; In the face of public opinion, he rejects it once again. "I felt ready to stand trial and defend my innocence. My lawyers were convinced that we had a winning trial," said the singer, who has called for a review of the criminal system in Spain in this type of process and has expressed her admiration for others investigated for similar crimes (she expressly cites former Real Madrid player Xavi Alonso and former motorcyclist Sito Pons) "who have fought until the end". In the end, he adds, he has taken the reason for "personal, emotional and sentimental" reasons.
"I had two options: to keep fighting until the end, mortgaging my peace of mind and that of my children, to stop making songs, albums and tours, without being able to enjoy my career and the things I like, or to agree, close and leave behind this chapter of my life looking forward," Shakira adds in that statement. "It's not a triumph to win if the price is to be robbed of so many years of your life (...) For me, today, winning is making up my time."
The singer Shakira, with her lawyers, on her arrival at the Court of Barcelona, this Monday. Albert Garcia Gallego
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