Columbian pop star Shakira, already implicated in a tax evasion scheme involving a Maltese company, is facing a second round of fresh charges from Spanish authorities.
The singer is accused of defrauding the Spanish state to €6.7 million in 2018 after failing to declare millions in advance payments for her El Dorado World Tour and other ventures.
The latest investigation was opened in July this year, with the news of the charges made public on 26 September. While Shakira is reportedly aware of the charges, they took her legal team by surprise as they told Reuters they were “focused on preparing for the trial for the 2012-14 fiscal years, which will begin on Nov 20.”
In her latest round of woes, prosecutors alleged that Shakira diverted her income to companies with low taxation and high opacity while living in Spain with her then-partner Gerard Pique, the BBC reported.
Spanish tax rules mean all residents must have their international income taxed in the country.
The new round of charges comes less than two months before her trial over six separate tax crimes starts in November. She is accused of non-payment of €14.5m in tax between 2012 and 2014.
She faces a €23.3 million fine and a possible eight-year jail term if found guilty. Shakira has denied the charges.
“I am confident that I have enough proof to support my case and that justice will prevail in my favour,” she told Elle magazine in September.
Shakira’s offshore business empire was exposed in 2017 through the publication of the Paradise Papers, landing her in hot water with Spanish authorities.
Among her vast network of 14 offshore companies was Tournesol Ltd, based in Malta and used as the official rights-holder of her musical assets, worth, at the time, some €32 million.
The company was first registered in 2007 and remains active. She also remains the sole shareholder, with her address listed as Barcelona, Spain.
The Spanish tax authorities honed in on the singer for tax payments they say were due between 2012 and 2014 while she was living in Barcelona. They insist that she was resident in Spain long enough to be considered a resident for tax purposes, something she denies due to her international commitments.
She claimed she was a resident in the Bahamas during the years in question and that the network of offshore companies was due to the international nature of her work.
Malta’s tax and corporate regime is highly accommodating to those looking for offshore companies. An EU Tax Observatory report published in September 2021 found Malta is one of 17 tax havens banks use to minimise their tax obligations.
The European Commission has been trying to rein in Malta and other wayward jurisdictions, but in 2022, the failure to include it as a tax haven on a blacklist provoked ire from Oxfam, who called the EU a “hypocrite.”
Malta offers a tax regime where corporate profits are taxed at 35% but can be reduced to 5% or even lower through a tax refund system paid to shareholders.
She is also suspected of using an offshore company in a tax haven in the most recent charges, but the jurisdiction was not named.