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Shakira ordered to stand trial for tax fraud in Spain

Shakira.MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images

After years of back-and-forth with Spanish authorities, Shakira is headed to trial for alleged tax fraud, a Barcelona judge has ordered.

The Colombian pop star known for hits like "Hips Don't Lie" and "Waka Waka" is accused of defrauding the Spanish government between 2012 and 2014 by failing to pay 14.5 million euros ($13.9 million). Spanish prosecutors have claimed they have "sufficient evidence" to prove that the singer lived in the country during the three-year-stretch.

Shakira has repeatedly denied the allegations. In a recent interview with Elle magazine, the singer said she did not settle with Spanish authorities because she has evidence proving that she did not spend enough days in the country during that period to be considered a resident for tax purposes.

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She was busy touring the world, even while pregnant with her first child, she told the magazine.

"It is well known that the Spanish tax authorities do this often not only with celebrities like me (or [soccer stars Cristiano] Ronaldo, Neymar, [Xabi] Alonso, and many more), it also happens unjustly to the regular taxpayer," Shakira told Elle. "But I'm confident that I have enough proof to support my case and that justice will prevail in my favor."

Her publicists did not immediately respond to an email from The Washington Post seeking comment.

In court documents obtained by The Post, Esplugues de Llobregat (Barcelona) judge Ana Duro Palencia ordered the singer to stand trial in connection with six charges related to tax fraud. The judge has yet to set a trial date. In the meantime, Shakira will not face any precautionary measures such as house arrest, the judge said in the five-page court document dated Sept. 19.

Spanish prosecutors are seeking more than eight years in prison and a fine of about $24 million for Shakira.

The accusations date to 2018, when Spanish prosecutors first accused the Grammy-winning artist of evading millions in taxes. According to prosecutors, Shakira spent more than 200 days in Spain in each of those years. If an individual spends more than 183 days in the country in a year, they are considered a Spanish resident for tax purposes, the country's law states. The singer claimed Bahamas as her tax residency until 2015, when she relocated to Barcelona with FC Barcelona soccer player Gerard Piqué, her then-partner. They have two children together and recently ended their 11-year relationship.

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Last year, a judge concluded that prosecutors had gathered sufficient evidence to take the tax fraud charges to court. In July, after weeks of negotiations, the singer declined a settlement offer by Spanish prosecutors, El País reported.

Shakira told Elle magazine she rejected the proposal because she has proof to support her claims, adding that going to court is a "matter of principle."

The singer's public relations team in Spain said she repaid the amount she owed to Spain's tax agency as soon as she was notified, plus around 3 million euros (nearly $2.9 million) in interest, El País reported.

Shakira's name, along with those of other celebrities, appeared in two major caches of leaked financial documents: the Paradise Papers in 2017 and the Pandora Papers in 2021.

The Washington Post’s Amy Cheng contributed to this report.