The case covers the period from 2012 to 2014. During those years, Shakira filed her tax return in the Bahamas, where she has a house. According to the Spanish tax authorities, she did not live there at all. Shakira settled in Barcelona in 2011, says the Tax Authorities, when she started living together with footballer Gerard Piqué. In 2013 and 2014, the children of the famous couple were born, also in Barcelona.
What works against Shakira is that she is much more visible than many other wealthy residents of Spain. For example, the Tax Authorities counted her posts on social media that were made in Spain. Tax inspectors were also able to count the number of times Shakira sat in the stands to watch her husband’s game. What also works against her is that Shakira herself, back in 2011, said in an interview that she was proud to be able to call herself a resident of Barcelona from now on.
Unlike in the Netherlands, a prosecutor in Spain announces the penalty required at the very beginning of a case. The Public Prosecution Service is demanding a prison sentence of eight years and a fine of 23.5 million euros against Shakira.
Justice even opened a second case. This is not about Shakira’s income tax, but about the income of ‘the Shakira company’. For example, this is where the income comes from concert tours and royalties. In the second trial, the Public Prosecution Service accuses Shakira of having set up a ‘framework of BVs without actual activities, all located in tax havens’.
One of the companies that the justice department came across in that second investigation is in the Netherlands. That is Geneurope in Amsterdam, which manages Shakira’s intellectual property rights. According to the Spanish Public Prosecution Service, it is a typical example of a letterbox company, where no one works, but where millions are transferred back and forth with the aim of paying as little tax as possible. Shakira is also said to have businesses in Malta, the British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Liechtenstein, Panama and Luxembourg.
El Dorado tour
What Shakira is accused of in the second case is that she hid a large part of the income from her El Dorado world tour in 2018 in those empty companies. In this way, she allegedly evaded an amount of 5.3 million in taxes. Together with the first case, this adds up to a total of 19.8 million euros in taxes that, according to the Spanish Public Prosecution Service, were deliberately not paid by Shakira.
If that is true, Shakira is one of the biggest tax evaders in the ‘entertainers and top athletes’ category in Spain. The tax evasion by footballer Lionel Messi (4.1 million) and tennis player Arantxa Sánchez Vicario (3.5 million) is almost child’s play, compared to the case now against Shakira. Closer come the footballers Neymar (10 million) and Cristiano Ronaldo, who has admitted to 14.7 million in tax evasion.
Many well-known Spaniards who come into the crosshairs of the justice system decide to settle the case. This prevents all kinds of details about their lives and finances from becoming public in court. Shakira does not want to settle, she has said so far. “These are false accusations,” Shakira said in an interview last year.
“During those years I was busy fulfilling my professional obligations around the world. The Spanish tax authorities saw that I was in a relationship with a Spanish citizen and started to salivate. It is clear that they were going after that money anyway wanted to go.”
Last week, Shakira arrived in Spain from Miami, where she moved after her divorce from Gerard Piqué. It became clear that she was in Spain when she took the stage in Seville on Thursday evening, during the Latin Grammy Gala. Shakira could have chosen to let her lawyers speak in court in Barcelona today, but she is going to court herself.
Rossana Kluivert called as a witness
The Public Prosecution Service is going hard, Shakira is doing the same. She has 117 witnesses called. These are people who can tell something about how often she was really in Spain, because they stayed in her area. This concerns kitchen staff, Shakira’s driver, personal trainers, managers, producers and a number of neighbors, including Rossana Kluivert, the wife of Patrick Kluivert. There are also less obvious people on the list, such as two gynecologists and Shakira’s contact at Dolce & Gabanna.
The process will take a lot of time. The last day of the hearing is scheduled for December 14. It is still unknown when the verdict will be.