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Shakira stands trial in Spain for alleged tax fraud

BARCELONA — Shakira is to stand trial in Barcelona on Monday to face charges that she failed to pay €14.5 million ($15.74 million) in Spanish income tax between 2012 and 2014.

The “Hips Don’t Lie” Colombian megastar, who also has a second tax fraud investigation pending with Spanish authorities, has vowed to fight what she called false accusations.Shakira says she had paid what the tax office said was owed before it filed a lawsuit, and insists she was not living in Spain during the period as her work led to a “nomadic life.”

She rejected a settlement offer from the prosecutor’s office to close the case and is expected to testify on Monday in the first of 12 hearings scheduled until Dec. 14.

The prosecutor’s office is seeking an up to eight-year prison term and to claim back the taxes it says she owes.

It alleges that Shakira spent more than half of each of the years in question in Spain and was therefore ordinarily resident in the country. It also says that a Barcelona property she bought in May 2012 served as a family home.

Shakira, 46, lived with former Barcelona and Spain soccer star Gerard Pique 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.

Judge Jose Manuel del Amo Sanchez, who has handled other high-profile cases, will chair a panel of three judges who are set to hear more than 100 testimonies during the course of the trial.

Spanish authorities have pursued other major celebrities over tax evasion including soccer players such as Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Argentina’s Lionel Messi, and Brazilian-Spanish player Diego Costa. All settled and paid large fines.

However, Spain’s Supreme Court last month upheld the acquittal of Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso in another tax case. Alonso had refused to settle and eventually won at trial. — Reuters

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