The Colombian pop star Shakira has reached a settlement with prosecutors to avoid a trial in Barcelona over charges she failed to pay €14.5m (£12.7m) in Spanish income tax between 2012 and 2014.
As part of the deal, she accepted the charges and a fine of 50% of the amount owed, more than €7.3m.
She also accepted a further fine of €438,000 to avoid a three-year prison sentence, the judge said during the trial’s first hearing.
“This decision to reach a deal responds to personal, emotional and sentimental reasons that have nothing to do with legal [reasons],” Shakira said in a statement released by her Spanish communication agency, adding she was ready to defend her innocence but decided to prioritise her career and children. “I have reached the conclusion that winning is not a victory if the price is that they rob you of so many years of your life,” she said.
Shakira, 46, had arrived at court shortly before 10am (0900 GMT) accompanied by her lawyers, amid a media frenzy.
“Do you recognise the facts and conform with the new penalties that have been requested?” asked Judge Jose Manuel del Amo Sanchez. “Yes,” she responded.
Previously, the singer, who also has a second tax fraud investigation pending with Spanish authorities, had vowed to fight what she called false accusations.
The prosecutor’s office was seeking a prison term of up to eight years and to claim back the taxes it said she owed.
It alleged Shakira spent more than half of each of the years in question in Spain and was therefore ordinarily resident in the country. It also said a Barcelona property she bought in May 2012 served as a family home.
“It is logically a ruling of conformity that involves a recognition of the facts. But the decision has been motivated by personal issues,” Miriam Company, one of Shakira’s lawyers, told reporters outside the courthouse. She said the legal team was convinced it could prove Shakira’s innocence but that the circumstances had changed.
Shakira, 46, lived with the former Barcelona and Spain footballer Gerard Piqué for 11 years and the couple have two children. The singer, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, moved to Miami after their separation.
Spanish authorities have pursued other famous people over tax evasion, including the footballers Cristiano Ronaldo, of Portugal, Argentina’s Lionel Messi and the Brazilian-Spanish player Diego Costa. All settled and paid large fines.
The Bayer Leverkusen coach, Xabi Alonso, refused to settle and eventually won a trial against the tax agency. Spain’s supreme court last month upheld his acquittal.
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