After having maintained her innocence for nearly five years, pop star Shakira struck a last-minute deal to avoid the risk of going to prison on the opening day of her tax fraud trial in Barcelona on Monday, November 20th.
Shakira told the presiding magistrate, José Manuel del Amo, 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.
Under the deal, Shakira is to receive a suspended three-year sentence and pay a fine of 7.3 million euros ($8 million), plus she will pay another fine of 432,000 euros ($472,000) in exchange for her suspended sentence.
The trial, which would have included more than 100 witnesses over the following weeks, was instead called off after just eight minutes.
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 fans worldwide for her hits in Spanish and English in different musical genres.
Shakira said in a statement provided by her public relations firm that she had wanted to fight on but put her family, career, and peace of mind first.
“I have made the decision to finally resolve this matter with the best interest of my kids at heart who do not want to see their mom sacrifice her personal well-being in this fight,” she said. “I need to move past the stress and emotional toll of the last several years and focus on the things I love, my kids, and all the opportunities to come in my career.”
The case hinged on where Shakira, now 46, lived during that period. Prosecutors in Barcelona have alleged that the Colombian singer spent more than half of that period in Spain and therefore should have paid taxes on her worldwide income in the country even though her official residence was still in the Bahamas. Tax rates are much lower in the Bahamas than in Spain.
The multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy winner waved and blew a kiss to a small crowd of bystanders before entering the courthouse. She briefly sat in front of the panel of judges, flanked by teams of prosecutors on one side and the defense on the other.