Pop megastar Shakira settled a tax dispute with Spanish authorities on Monday, trading a potential prison sentence for fines in a last minute deal just hours before she was due to appear in court after previously vowing to fight allegations of tax dodging.
The Colombian singer has reached a deal to pay a $7.5 million fine on the morning she was due to appear in a Barcelona court over allegations she dodged 14.5 million ($15.8 million) in income tax between 2012 and 2014.
Spanish prosecutors were reportedly pushing for an eight year prison sentence and fine of 23.8 million ($26 million) should the singer be found guilty.
Shakira, who turned down a deal to settle the case last year and vowed to fight the allegations in court, said the decision to resolve the case before trial was made “"with the best interest of my kids at heart.”
They ”do not want to see their mom sacrifice her personal wellbeing in this fight,” she said, adding that she was “determined to defend” her innocence at a trial her lawyers “were confident would have ruled in my favor.”
Shakira is one of the world’s most successful entertainers and best-selling music artists of all time. The singer, known for hits including “Hips Don’t Lie,” “Waka Waka,” “She Wolf,” “Whenever Wherever” and “Chantaje,”has broken records, won numerous awards and trodden a rarified—though not unique—multicultural path that has catapulted her to mainstream success in both Spanish and English-speaking markets around the world. Beyond her music, Shakira’s career has seen her work across the world as a Unicef goodwill ambassador, a judge on the U.S. edition of “The Voice” and a philanthropist through her Pies Descalzos Foundation. This work, part of what Shakira describes as the “nomadic life,” is at the core of Spanish authorities’ case against the singer, particularly her residency in Spain between 2012 and 2014. At the time, Shakira was married to Barcelona soccer sensation Gerard Piqué, with whom she has two children (the couple have since split), but claimed most of her income came from her international tours and she spent a large amount of time outside the country, only declaring it a residence for tax purposes in 2015. Prosecutors’ argued the singer had been living more than half of the year in Spain and was therefore subject to Spanish income taxes.
Spanish authorities have pursued a number of other high profile celebrities for tax evasion , including settlements involving football stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and Shakira is facing a second probe over alleged tax fraud in 2018. This case remains active and Shakira’s team has insisted the singer has “always acted in accordance with the law and under the advice of the best tax experts."