Colombian popstar Shakira made a deal with Spanish prosecutors just days before her trial for tax fraud, which involved stashing assets and funds in offshore companies, including in Malta, was due to begin.
While prosecutors sought an eight-year prison sentence and a €23.8 million fine, the deal struck at the eleventh hour will see her pay €7.5 million- less than a third of what she allegedly owed.
Shakira, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, said she made the settlement “with the interest of my kids at heart” because they “do not want to see their mom sacrifice her personal well-being in this fight.”
The deal comes after Shakira previously rejected an offer from the prosecutor, opting instead to go to trial. But with the session due to start in a matter of days, she apparently had a change of heart.
“I was determined to defend my innocence in a trial that my lawyers were confident would have ruled in my favour,” she said, adding that Spanish tax authorities had pursued a case against her as they had with many other high-profile individuals “draining those people’s energy, time, and tranquillity for years at a time.”
Under Spanish law, those who spend more than six months in the country are considered tax residents and must pay local taxes. In 2012, Shakira bought a house in Barcelona, which she shared with her children and then-partner, footballer Gerard Pique.
Between 2012 and 2014, prosecutors say she was resident in Spain, while Shakira says she spent long periods outside the country, including being on tour while declaring her residence as Barbados.
She then declared her place of residence as Spain in 2015 and said she paid all taxes related to that time. But authorities say she owes money for the years preceding her change of residence.
The Malta connection
In her defence brief, Shakira’s lawyers argued that she was exempt from Spanish tax and that a Maltese company managed her income in full compliance with all legal requirements.
The Maltese company, Tournesol Limited, was registered in Malta on 27 December 2007. The company holds the rights to her musical assets, amounting to a value of some €32 million.
The company’s authorised share capital is €3.02 million. Tournesol, in turn, owns a Luxembourg-based firm named ACE Entertainment.
A search of the Malta Business Registry shows Shakira is still 100% owner of the company, and her listed residence address is the home in Esplugues de Llobregat, outside of Barcelona.
The company is registered at the Oyia Business Centre in Marsa. The singer has a reported estimated net worth of around €300 million.