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SPAIN: SHAKIRA'S TAX EVASION TRIAL SETTLED WITH SUSPENDED SENTENCE AND MILLIONS IN FINES


Singer, Spain, Panama Papers, Tax

Colombian pop star Shakira has reached a last-minute deal to avoid prison in her tax fraud trial in Barcelona. According to AP News, Shakira, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, will receive a suspended three-year sentence and $8 million in fines, including one to have her sentence waived. Her legal record will state she was found guilty of tax fraud. The pop star accepted an agreement with prosecutors and acknowledged six counts of failing to pay nearly $16 million in income taxes to Spain over two years. The case hinged on from 2012 to 2014.


Prosecutors alleged she spent more than half the time in Spain and should have paid taxes, even though her official residence was in the Bahamas, with lower tax rates. Initially, prosecutors sought eight years and two months in prison and a hefty fine. Shakira's trial, expected to involve over 100 witnesses, lasted only eight minutes.


In a statement, Shakira explained her decision, saying, "I was determined to defend my innocence, but I've resolved this matter with the best interest of my kids at heart."


Shakira's financial affairs were previously exposed in the Paradise Papers and Pandora Papers, revealing her involvement in shell companies in tax havens. She was among famous actors and musicians named in the Paradise Papers, a 2017 investigation based on leaked financial records. All denied wrongdoing.


This case, like many others before it, underscores the critical role played by leakers, whistleblowers, and investigative journalists in uncovering complex webs of financial transactions and exposing attempts at tax avoidance or evasion that might otherwise remain hidden. The Paradise Papers and Pandora Papers, which revealed Shakira's involvement in offshore shell companies, serve as a powerful reminder of the vital watchdog function these individuals and the media perform in shedding light on opaque financial practices, ensuring greater transparency, and holding individuals and entities accountable for their financial responsibilities. This case exemplifies how such revelations can have far-reaching consequences in the pursuit of tax justice and fair fiscal systems.


The issues of aggressive tax avoidance and other forms of tax abuses and crimes have recently been comprehensively addressed by global experts in the field of taxation during the International Roundtable series conducted under the umbrella of the Corporate Crime Observatory, focusing on "Compliance, Avoidance, and Evasion in Taxation: The Role of Professionals." The insightful discussions and debates that took place in these sessions shed light on the intricate challenges posed by tax compliance, avoidance, and evasion, particularly in cases involving high-profile individuals and entities.


For those seeking an in-depth exploration of these topics, the video recordings of all the sessions as well as other fascinating sources can be accessed through the following links, providing a valuable resource for further understanding and analysis:


CORPORATE TAX AVOIDANCE AND THE ROLE OF PROFESSIONALS

  • The Gray Area of Taxation I – General Focus on Unethical Tax Avoidance: Session Link

  • The Gray Area of Taxation II – Focus on Technology, Whistleblowing, and Ethical Decision-Making: Session Link

CORPORATE TAX EVASION AND THE ROLE OF PROFESSIONALS

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY IN THE AREA OF TAX ABUSES

Additionally, the Corporate Crime Observatory offers an extensive bibliography on tax abuses, spotlighting some of the best articles published each academic year: Tax Crime Bibliography.


VIRTEU INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM "THE PROFESSIONALS: DEALING WITH THE ENABLERS OF ECONOMIC CRIME" The event aimed at exploring, from both a phenomenological and theoretical point of view, the role of professionals as facilitators of economic crime and conceiving possible responses to address such a phenomenon: International Symposium.


ADDITIONAL VIRTEU RESEARCH PROJECT RESOURCES

Furthermore, we recommend exploring resources from the VIRTEU research, focusing on the interconnections between corruption and tax evasion, with particular attention to corporations involved in these phenomena. Key VIRTEU resources include:

  1. Workshops focused on specific countries and other sources: VIRTEU Resources

  2. The Technical Report summarizing findings from the Expert Survey, a significant empirical research activity of the VIRTEU project: VIRTEU Expert Survey

  3. Technical Papers published during the research project: VIRTEU Reports

Anne Branigin, Shakira strikes last-minute deal in Spanish tax fraud case, The Washington Post, November 20, 2023.

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