Shakira’s alleged tax evasion aggravated by use of tax havens, say Spanish prosecutors
Spanish prosecutors have called for an eight-year prison sentence and a hefty fine for Colombian pop singer Shakira over alleged $15.5million tax evasion compounded by the star’s widespread use of front companies in tax havens .
Spanish authorities say ‘use of legal persons as intermediaries’ to conceal income was an aggravating factor, El País reported citing a source familiar with the matter. If convicted, she could also face a $24 million fine.
Her lawyers had previously told reporters investigating some of the singer’s offshore activities that “the fact of having companies overseas is based on purely operational and commercial matters and in no way to obtain any tax advantage. “.
Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, maintains her innocence and rejected a settlement agreement with Spanish authorities earlier this year. The Latin American artist said she had repaid the money owed to the authorities with interest.
Shakira “has always demonstrated impeccable behavior, as a person and a taxpayer, and a complete willingness to resolve any disagreement from the start, even before the criminal proceedings,” the press said. statement recently released by its representatives said.
The tax evasion case is now set to go to trial over six tax offenses the pop star allegedly committed between 2012 and 2014 while in a relationship with FC Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique and was a tax resident in Spain, according to tax inspectors. taxes. No trial date has yet been announced.
The singer has denied claims by authorities that at the time she resided in the Bahamas and only visited Spain “sporadically”. The court case began in 2018.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its media partners first revealed Shakira’s use of offshore companies in low- or zero-tax jurisdictions in the Paradise Papers, an investigation published in 2017 and based on a leak of 13 .4 million secret financial documents obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche. Zeitung.
The project revealed how a number of famous actors and musicians, including Madonna and U2’s Bono, have used shell companies to potentially lower their taxes or shift profits overseas. All denied wrongdoing.
Among them, the confidential files showed that Shakira, known for hit songs like “Hips Don’t Lie” and “Waka Waka”, used the tiny island of Malta to transfer music rights valued at more than 30 million dollars. A company filing listed her as a resident of the Bahamas and as the sole shareholder of the Maltese company. The arrangement complied with “all legal requirements”, his lawyers told reporters at the time.
Confidential files also showed the singer’s links to companies registered in Luxembourg and the Netherlands, two European countries also considered tax havens.
Last year, the ICIJ and media partners investigating a separate leak of financial records from 14 offshore financial service providers as part of the Pandora Papers investigation linked the award-winning singer to three other front companies, registered in the islands. British virgins, another notorious tax. haven.
A leak letter of recommendation written by Shakira’s US lawyers in 2019 and addressed to a BVI-based financial services provider said their client “turned out to be an honest and trustworthy person of good character.”
All of the companies identified in Pandora Papers had previously been subject to scrutiny by Spanish authorities, ICIJ partners in La Sexta and El País reported last fall.
Her representatives told reporters that Shakira used offshore companies because most of her income came from outside Spain and Spanish tax authorities knew about all of her companies. They also said that these BVI companies had no income or activities.