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TAX FRAUD

Spanish court orders Shakira to stand trial in tax fraud case

A Spanish court has ordered Colombian music superstar Shakira to stand trial in a tax fraud case at a date yet to be determined, court documents showed on Tuesday.

shakira-tax-fraud
The singer says she has paid €17.2 million to Spanish tax authorities and has no outstanding debts. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)

Prosecutors in Barcelona said in July they would seek a prison sentence of more than eight years against the singer and a fine of nearly €24 million ($24 million), after she rejected a plea deal over accusations of tax evasion.

They accuse the 45-year-old “Hips don’t Lie” songstress of defrauding the Spanish tax office of €14.5 million ($14.7 million) on income earned between 2012 and 2014.

Prosecutors say Shakira moved to Spain in 2011 when her relationship with FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique became public but maintained official tax residency in the Bahamas until 2015.

The couple, who have two children, announced their separation in June. On September 19, a Barcelona court ordered the singer to stand trial for six tax crimes, according to a court ruling made public on Tuesday.

In an interview published in Elle magazine last week, Shakira said she was confident she had behaved correctly and did not owe the Spanish tax office anything.

“These accusations are false,” she said.

“While Gerard and I were dating, I was on a world tour. I spent more than 240 days outside Spain, so there was no way I qualified as a resident,” she added.

“The Spanish tax authorities saw that I was dating a Spanish citizen and started to salivate. It’s clear they wanted to go after that money no matter what.”

Shakira’s lawyers have said that until 2014 she earned most of her money from international tours, moved to Spain full time only in 2015 and has met all her tax obligations.

The singer says she has paid €17.2 million to Spanish tax authorities and has no outstanding debts.

She argues Spanish prosecutors are trying to claim money she earned during her international tour and from her participation on the show “The Voice”.

She was a judge on the show in the United States, when she says she was not yet resident in Spain.

A Barcelona court in May dismissed an appeal from the singer to drop the charges.

Shakira was named in one of the largest ever leaks of financial documents in October 2021, known as the “Pandora Papers”, among public figures linked to offshore assets.

With her mix of Latin and Arabic rhythms and rock influence, three-time Grammy winner Shakira scored major global hits with songs such as “Hips don’t Lie”, “Whenever, Wherever” and “Waka Waka”, the official song of the 2010 World Cup.

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CRIME

Spain hunts passengers who fled plane ’emergency landing’

Spanish police were searching for 14 passengers who fled after their plane made an emergency landing at Barcelona airport Wednesday following a medical incident that appeared to have been staged, officials said.

Spain hunts passengers who fled plane 'emergency landing'

They were part of a group of 28 people who left a Pegasus Airlines flight from Casablanca to Istanbul after it made a pre-dawn emergency landing at Barcelona’s El Prat airport.

It was the second such incident in just over a year involving a flight from Morocco to Turkey during which a passenger feigned a medical condition in order to force an emergency landing in Spain with dozens fleeing the plane.

According to a source in the central government’s delegation in Catalonia, the incident began at 4:30 am when the plane requested an emergency landing because “a female passenger’s waters had supposedly broken”.

When it touched down, the plane was met by an ambulance and three police patrols but “as they were disembarking the pregnant woman, a group of 28 people left the plane and tried to flee”, the source said.

Police managed to detain 14 of them, including the pregnant woman, but five were returned to the plane at their own request after being accepted back by the airline staff.

“The woman was taken to Sant Joan de Deu hospital for a check-up which found no signs she was in labour so she was discharged and arrested for disturbing the public order by claiming she had gone into labour,” the source said.

Police are searching for the 14 who managed to flee, while the authorities were processing the other eight would-be migrants to ensure their return to Morocco.

On November 5th, 2021, another plane from Casablanca to Istanbul was forced to make an emergency landing in Mallorca after one of the passengers appeared to be taken ill.

After the passenger disembarked from the plane with a companion, another 21 people fled.

The passenger, who appeared to be going into a diabetic coma, was taken to hospital but found to be fine and arrested, while his companion fled.

In total, police arrested 12 people, including a passenger who created a disturbance on the plane, while another 12 managed to flee, prompting a manhunt.

All but one were thought to be Moroccans.

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