Shakira rushes her options to avoid a trial for six tax crimes. The singer maintains that, until 2015, her tax residence was in the Bahamas and, therefore, she did not have to pay personal income tax. A report presented by his defense, to which EL PAÍS has accessed, indicates that in the three previous years (for which the prosecution accuses him) his presence in Spain was “sporadic”. That hypothesis, however, has been refuted this Thursday by an expert from the Treasury who has confirmed, before the judge investigating the case, the indications of tax fraud.
The prosecution accuses Isabel Mebarak – her real name – of defrauding 14.5 million euros by hiding her assets through a network of companies in tax havens. The Treasury considers that, since 2012 – two years after starting a romantic relationship with Barça defender Gerard Piqué – Shakira should be considered a resident of Spain because she spent at least half the year plus one day here. It is true that during all that time he traveled around the world to fulfill his artistic commitments, but they were “sporadic absences”: for all intents and purposes, the Tax Agency maintains, he lived in Barcelona.
In her statement as investigated, Shakira adhered to the script provided by her defense and assured that during those three years she resided in the Bahamas, where she had a home that she had shared with her ex-partner Antonio de la Rúa. It was defined then as a “nomad without roots.” His defense continues to cling to that hypothesis despite the fact that it has been denied by the Treasury technicians: there is not a single proof that, as of 2012, he spent a single day in the archipelago. The defense insists that the Colombian had a residence certificate issued by the Bahamas authorities, where no income tax is paid.
“What matters is not so much residence in the Bahamas, but whether Shakira can be considered a tax resident in Spain”, concedes the report prepared for the defense by two professors of financial and tax law. Because Shakira’s real fight is somewhere else: it’s a fight for the calendar. The singer tries to discuss the days lived in Spain. It is true that the Treasury has not been able to achieve “direct proof” (invoices in commercial establishments, tracking of social networks, use of credit cards) that the required 183 days passed here: it has remained at 117 for 2012, 118 for 2013 -when his first child was born in Barcelona- and 131 for 2014. He has, however, indirect evidence and considers, as the expert has stated, that his tours and concerts were nothing more than “sporadic absences” because the place where returned after work was Spain.
The professors who have prepared the report for Shakira argue that these sporadic absences only serve a taxpayer whose Spanish residency has previously been proven. “What exists in Spain during those years are sporadic presences and never permanence,” the document insists, even though the singer is considered a “fiscal traveler”. One of the experts hired by Shakira has given a statement at the same time as the Treasury expert, who has contested all his theses.
The defense tries to play its tricks. He insists that the criminal process “is not the appropriate venue” to resolve the differences with the Treasury, because the residence rules are “open, confusing and indeterminate.” The battle is about days, but also about hours. The report asks that the days in which Shakira only spent a few hours in Spanish territory not be counted as full days. But the expert has also dismantled that idea, and has indicated that the full days must be added in the two countries. Shakira’s problem is that, without having set foot in the Bahamas in all that time – she has not provided a plane ticket to prove it – there is no country of reference to which these days can be added.
Having raised the calendar battle, it is now up to the examining magistrate of Esplugues de Llobregat (Barcelona) to decide whether to send the case to trial. Shakira, who has already returned the supposedly defrauded quota to the Treasury, will then be faced with the situation of facing an oral hearing that will expose her publicly and that may even put her freedom at risk: the prosecution accuses her of six tax offenses for the taxes of Personal income tax and assets for those three years. Another avenue that you can explore is a pact with the prosecution whereby, in exchange for a substantial reduction of the sentence, you accept the facts and the payment of the corresponding fine. For now, Shakira is still in the fight. Through a statement, their representatives have insisted that the process is still “in the investigation phase” and has shown their willingness to collaborate to solve what they consider to be a mere “difference of opinion.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.