Can Shakira really go to jail for tax evasion?

These hips don’t lie, but according to the Spanish tax agency, Shakira’s tax return does. Now the question is whether she can go behind the bars.

The 45-year-old Colombian-born superstar has been charged with failing to pay taxes in Spain between 2012 and 2014, prompting prosecutors on July 29 to face up to eight years in prison and a fine of several million euros. newsweek previously reported. Gerard Pique, Shakira’s partner for more than a decade and the father of her two children – from whom he announced a split in June – plays football for FC Barcelona.

Spanish authorities allege that Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, owed 14.5 million euros (about $14.7 million) in taxes. Star has denied these allegations, and turned down a plea deal, arguing that he had a legal residence in the income tax-exempt Bahamas during that time.

The Bahamas’ status as a tax haven is beside the point, according to tax attorney Isaac Abad of Spain-based Abad & Associates Lawyers and Accountants. According to the 183-day rule, a person who spends 183 days or more in one country pays worldwide taxes for that country: “It’s as easy or as complicated,” Abad explains. newsweek, “This case is as easy or difficult as the evidence.”

According to Spanish tax attorney Isaac Abad, Shakira’s guilt or innocence will depend on how many days prosecutors can prove she has spent in Spain. Here she performs at the Davis Cup on November 24, 2019 in Madrid.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

What Abad says is the primacy of social media content and photos for someone like Shakira, which can help prosecutors build a timeline of her arrival and departure. “One thing that hasn’t been very beneficial to Shakira is the use of social nets, because [tax agency’s] The inspector is investigating … surfing the web, and day after day, they have information on what she was doing each day, and she was in Spain for most of the day.”

The Spanish tax agency and prosecutors are particularly aggressive on such cases, Abad says, because of the country’s close proximity to Andorra, which is itself a tax haven.

“The prosecutors in Spain are experts in this matter,” he says, “because there are many people from Catalonia who say they are living in Andorra to avoid Spanish taxes… [Prosecutors] They are taking it seriously because they are used to it.”

So the big question is, could one of the world’s biggest stars really be behind bars?

“In my opinion, even in the worst case scenario, there are some gray areas,” Abad says. “It is impossible to say whether Shakira was here or not. I may be in Argentina and ask my attendant to buy a watch for me in Barcelona.” Credit card records, Abad says, are difficult to decipher in this way.

He also says that this kind of situation is not uncommon for celebrities: “They are not tax professionals. They place their trust and their trust in a person and are guided by them.” He cites the case of Argentine football player Lionel Messi, who was found guilty of tax fraud in 2016 and alleged ignorance of how to handle his finances.

As for Shakira’s fate, according to Abad, “From my experience, it’s just a matter of money.” He points to Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been accused of similar allegations in the past. “In Madrid, Ronaldo admitted to committing a punitive offense on the first day of court,” says Abad. “He was sentenced to two years and then he didn’t have to go to prison; that” [just] Everything had to be paid for.”

Still, it is not unheard of for a celebrity to be jailed. Spanish singer Isabel Pantoja served two years for money laundering, Abad says: “I think what the prosecutors are looking at is the picture. They like the sad picture of the famous person going to court. The prosecutor is very aggressive with them.” Huh.”

In the end, Abad hopes the matter will be settled out of court, despite Shakira’s initial refusal to take a plea. “We’ll see what happens, but I’m sure they will reach an agreement,” he says. “At this stage, the judge has only said that he should be investigated. The judge is not saying whether he has committed the crime or not, just that there is sufficient evidence for investigation.”

newsweek Reached out to Shakira’s rep for comment.

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