SHAKIRA has unleashed a stinging attack on tax authorities in Spain ahead of the fraud trial which could see her end up with an eight-year jail sentence.
The singer, 45, hit out in a surprise onslaught four months after learning Spanish state prosecutors were seeking a stiff penalty if she is found guilty of an alleged £12million tax fraud.
A date for the trial at a court in Barcelona has yet to be set.
As well as an eight-year prison sentence, state prosecutors want Shakira to be hit with a fine of 23 million euros (£19.2 million) if she is convicted as charged.
The Colombian-born singer is accused of pretending to live abroad to avoid paying tax despite moving to Barcelona in 2011 to be with her then-boyfriend, Spain and Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, 35.
She has already paid out an estimated three million euros (£2.5m) to the Spanish taxman.
But the mum-of-two today claimed she was being “persecuted” and accused the Spanish Treasury of using “unacceptable methods to damage her reputation and force her to come to a settlement agreement.”
Shakira insisted she had no intention of making any deals and would go to trial.
A spokesman for the artist also made it clear she felt the country’s tax authorities were accusing her of lying about residing outside of Spain “without evidence” for the years she had been charged with tax fraud.
Shakira, previously a tax resident in the Bahamas, only registered as a full-time tax resident in Spain in 2015 despite starting to date her ex Gerard Pique five years earlier.
People who spend more than 183 days in a given calendar year in Spain are considered Spanish residents for tax purposes.
Spanish tax inspectors reportedly spent more than a year checking up on Shakira, even visiting her favourite hairdressers in Barcelona and checking her social media to try to show she spent most of the three years in dispute in Spain.
They concluded she had spent 242 days in Spain in 2012, 212 days in 2013 and 243 days in the country in 2014 before indicting her with six counts of tax fraud for those three years.
Shakira’s lawyer Pablo Molins Amat presented her legal statement of offence today to the Barcelona court which has been investigating her, the artist’s publicists confirmed late this morning.
A statement released by Barcelona-based LLYC and authorised by Shakira said: “Shakira is a taxpayer who has always shown impeccable tax conduct and has never had tax problems in any other jurisdiction.
“The singer relied on top advisors such as PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
“She never exceeded the 183 days of presence in Spain required to be a tax resident.
“With no solid evidence to support the charges against her, she has been fiercely persecuted in the criminal and media spheres using unacceptable methods to damage her reputation and force her to come to a settlement agreement.
“Shakira has already paid more than 90 million euros for international income that has not been generated in Spain and for her international assets, without having a business centre in this country where she has never earned a significant income.”
‘TRYING TO DAMAGE MY REPUTATION’
Shakira also made it clear she felt the Spanish tax authorities were riding roughshod over her fundamental rights and trying to damage her hard-earned reputation.
In a personal message as part of her statement, she said: “It is unacceptable that in its accusation the tax authorities are not respecting the legal certainty that must be guaranteed to any taxpayer, not my fundamental rights.
“As well as that they are trying to damage a reputation earned with the work of many years.”
She added, referring to the “unorthodox and unacceptable methods” used by the Treasury such as requesting private data from hospitals where the singer requested an appointment: “In my case they have violated my right to privacy and the presumption of innocence, basic rights of any citizen.”
Accusing some senior representatives of the Spanish Treasury of making statements to the media in breach of their duty of confidentiality and creating a “contrived story that gave the appearance of Shakira’s permanent presence in Spanish territory”, her representatives added: “What actually occurred were sporadic presences, thus resulting in an accusation based on mere conjecture.
“As an example, the accusation counts all the payments made with a series of credit cards belonging to her team and friends made in Spain to add up the days of Shakira’s presence in this country, without taking into account that, on many occasions, there are payments made simultaneously in different parts of the world, without the artist being physically present in those places where the payments were being made.”
The singer also made it clear she was prepared to go to trial to prove her innocence rather than striking a deal with the Spanish taxman.
“Shakira continues to maintain her firm will to comply with all her tax obligations in Spain, as well as in all the countries where she has resided or performed during her long professional career.
“Finally, Shakira wishes to express her absolute confidence in the independence of the Spanish justice system and her firm conviction that, after the trial, her full innocence will prevail.”