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Could Shakira go to prison for tax fraud in Spain?

The Colombian singer could face up to eight years in prison and a $24 million fine if found guilty by Spanish tax authorities.

Shakira threatened with prison time in Spain
Steve MitchellUSA TODAY Sports

Prosecutors in Spain have confirmed that they will request that Colombian pop star Shakira be sentenced to eight years and two months in prison if she’s found guilty of tax fraud.

The singer, whose full name is Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, is the subject of six charges related to allegations that she failed to pay taxes due between 2012 and 2014. Prosecutors allege that she owes around $15 million in unpaid taxes.

Shakira has recently rejected a settlement offer made by prosecutors and has opted to take the case to trial instead. In addition to the potential eight-year sentence, she could be hit with a $24 million fine if found guilty.

What has Shakira been accused of?

The three-time Grammy winner is at the centre of a dispute over historic taxes, which she claims to have already paid. The Spanish prosecutors claim that she owes $15 million, but Shakira’s team have stated that this bill was settled with a $17.5 million payment to the national tax office.

However she was dealt a blow by a Spanish judge last July when it was ruled that there was “evidence of criminality,” meaning that she could be tried in court.

Shakira is Colombian but was, until very recently, married to Spanish soccer player Gerard Pique. The prosecutor’s office claim Shakira was “ordinarily resident in Spain between 2012 and 2014 and in May 2012 bought a house in Barcelona,” and therefore required to pay taxes in Spain.

In a statement, Shakira’s representatives maintain that she is “fully confident of her innocence” and dismissed the pending legal case as a “violation of her rights.”

Shakira and Pique split

The tax investigation stems from a two-year period during which Shakira was living with longtime partner Pique. However after 12 years together the duo announced last month that they would be separating.

We regret to confirm that we are separating. For the well-being of our children, who are our highest priority, we request respect for (our) privacy. Thank you for your understanding,” they confirmed in a joint statement.

Shakira, 45, and Pique (35) have two children together after meeting while filming the music video for the song ‘Waka Waka,’ the official song of the 2010 World Cup. There is no suggested that Pique could be implicated in the Spanish prosecutors’ investigation of Shakira’s tax offences.