Shakira, winner of the video vanguard award and best collaboration for "TQG", poses in the press room at the MTV Video Music Awards on Tuesday, Sept 12, 2023, at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, US. (PHOTO / AP)
BARCELONA — Colombian pop star Shakira on Monday reached a settlement to avoid a trial in Barcelona over charges she failed to pay 14.5 million euros ($15.7 million) in Spanish income tax between 2012 and 2014, arguing it was triggered by personal reasons.
As part of the deal, she accepted the charges and a fine of half the amount owed, more than 7.3 million euros.
"Hips Don't Lie" singer, who also has a second tax fraud investigation pending with Spanish authorities, had vowed to fight what she called false accusations
She also accepted another fine of 438,000 euros to avoid a three-year prison sentence, the judge said during the trial's first hearing.
"This decision to reach a deal responds to personal, emotional and sentimental reasons that have nothing to do with legal (reasons)," Shakira said in a statement released by her Spanish communication agency, adding she was ready to defend her innocence but decided to prioritize her career and kids.
"I have reached the conclusion that winning is not a victory if the price is that they rob you of so many years of your life," she said.
"Do you recognize the facts and conform with the new penalties that have been requested?" asked Judge Jose Manuel del Amo Sanchez at the start of the trial.
"Yes," Shakira responded softly, wearing a pink suit matching her pink handbag.
She arrived minutes before the start of the trial accompanied by her lawyers, amid a media frenzy and the support of some fans outside.
On Thursday night, Shakira won two Latin Grammy awards in Seville.
Previously, the "Hips Don't Lie" singer, who also has a second tax fraud investigation pending with Spanish authorities, had vowed to fight what she called false accusations.
The prosecutor's office was seeking up to eight years in prison and to claim back the taxes it says she owes.
It alleged that Shakira spent more than half of each of the years in question in Spain and was therefore ordinarily resident in the country. It also said that a Barcelona property she bought in May 2012 served as a family home.
"It is logically a ruling of conformity that involves a recognition of the facts. But the decision has been motivated by personal issues," Miriam Company, one of Shakira's lawyers, told reporters outside the courthouse.
She said the legal team was convinced it could prove Shakira's innocence but that the circumstances had changed.
Shakira performs during the 24th annual Latin Grammy Awards in Seville, Spain, Thursday, Nov 16, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)
Shakira arrives at the 24th annual Latin Grammy Awards in Seville, Spain, Thursday, Nov 16, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)
Shakira poses in the press room with the awards for song of the year and best pop song for "Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53" and best urban fusion performance for "TQG" during the 24th annual Latin Grammy Awards in Seville, Spain, Thursday, Nov 16, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)
Colombian singer Shakira performs on stage during the 24th Annual Latin Grammy Awards ceremony at the Conference and Exhibition Centre (FIBES) in Sevilla on Nov 16, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
Shakira, 46, lived with former Barcelona and Spain soccer star Gerard Pique for 11 years and the couple have two children. The singer, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, moved to Miami after their separation.
Spanish authorities have pursued other major celebrities over tax evasion, including soccer players such as Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, Argentina's Lionel Messi and Brazilian-Spanish player Diego Costa. All settled and paid large fines.
Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso refused to settle and eventually won a trial against the tax agency. Spain's Supreme Court last month upheld his acquittal.
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