After having maintained her innocence for nearly five years, pop star Shakira struck a last-minute deal on the opening day of her tax fraud trial in Barcelona to avoid the risk of going to prison.
Shakira told the presiding magistrate, José Manuel del Amo, on Monday that she accepted the agreement reached with prosecutors. She answered “yes” to confirm her acknowledgment of six counts of failing to pay the Spanish government 14.5 million euros (about $15.8 million) in taxes between 2012 and 2014.
The trial, which was expected to include more than 100 witnesses over several weeks, was instead called off after just eight minutes.
Under the deal, Shakira is to receive a suspended three-year sentence and to pay a fine of 7.3 million euros ($8 million) in addition to the previously unpaid taxes and interest. She will pay another fine of 432,000 euros ($472,000) in exchange for having her prison sentence waived.
However, she now has it on her legal record that she was found guilty of tax fraud, which could affect another pending tax case.
The fraud allegations had hinged on where Shakira, now 46, lived during 2012-14. Prosecutors in Barcelona alleged the Colombian singer spent more than half of that period in Spain and therefore should have paid taxes on her worldwide income there even though her official residence was still in the Bahamas. Tax rates are much lower in the Bahamas than in Spain.
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 has won over a fans around the global with her hits in Spanish and English in different musical genres.