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Spanish court formally sends Shakira to trial for tax fraud

Spanish court formally sends Shakira to trial for tax fraud

Colombian star Shakira denies defrauding the Spanish tax authorities (Photo: AFP/LOIC VENANCE)

MADRID: A Spanish court on Tuesday (Sep 27) formally ordered Colombian superstar Shakira to stand trial on accusations that she failed to pay €14.5 million (US$14.31 million) in income taxes, a court document released on Tuesday showed.

The Hips Don't Lie singer, 45, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, rejected in July a deal to settle the case, which meant she would have to stand trial in a case that could see her sent to prison for eight years.

The Esplugues de Llobregat court on Tuesday confirmed the trial will go ahead on a date still to be announced.

Prosecutors are seeking an eight-year prison term and a fine of nearly €24 million for the singer, who is accused of failing to pay taxes between 2012 and 2014, a period in which she said she was leading a "nomadic life" because of her work.

Prosecutors say Shakira moved to Spain in 2011 when her relationship with FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique became public but maintained official tax residency in the Bahamas until 2015.

The couple, who have two children, announced their separation in June.

Shakira has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and claims she owes nothing to the Spanish tax office.

"I'm confident that I have enough proof to support my case and that justice will prevail in my favour," she said in an interview published in Elle magazine last week.

"While Gerard and I were dating, I was on a world tour. I spent more than 240 days outside Spain, so there was no way I qualified as a resident," she added.

"The Spanish tax authorities saw that I was dating a Spanish citizen and started to salivate. It's clear they wanted to go after that money no matter what."

She argues that Spanish prosecutors are trying to claim money she earned during her international tour and from her participation on the show The Voice.

She was a judge on the show in the United States when she says she was not yet resident in Spain. 

"DARKEST HOURS"

A Barcelona court in May dismissed an appeal from the singer to drop the charges.

Shakira told Elle that the combination of her looming tax fraud trial, separation from Pique, custody battle for their children and her father's illness meant this was "probably one of the most difficult, darkest hours of my life".

Shakira vowed last week to fight what she claimed were "false" accusations by Spanish authorities and added that she had already paid what the Spanish tax office said she owed before they filed a lawsuit.

"The order to send Shakira to trial is just another step in any proceedings of this kind. The situation has not changed and everything continues as normal. Shakira's legal defence will do its job by presenting its written arguments at the appropriate time," a statement from her lawyers said.

Source: Agencies/vc
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