Spanish prosecutors file tax evasion charges against Shakira

Colombian singer Shakira visits Tannourine Cedars Reserve, in Tannourine, Lebanon July 13, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 December 2018
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Spanish prosecutors file tax evasion charges against Shakira

  • Shakira was named in the “Paradise Papers” leaks that detailed the offshore tax arrangements of numerous high-profile individuals, including musical celebrities like Madonna and U2’s Bono

MADRID: Spanish prosecutors have charged pop music star Shakira with tax evasion, alleging she failed to pay more than 14.5 million euros ($16.3 million) between 2012 and 2014. The Colombian singer denied the charges.
The charges published Friday allege that Shakira listed the Bahamas as her official residence for tax purposes during those years but was in fact living in Spain with her partner, Spanish soccer player Gerard Pique.
Tax rates are much lower in the Bahamas than in Spain.
Shakira said in a statement Friday through her representatives that she was not a legal resident in Spain during the years in question and owed nothing to the Spanish tax authorities, who are using her “as a scapegoat” to frighten other taxpayers into coming clean.
Prosecutors in Barcelona said Shakira’s travel abroad was for short periods because of professional commitments, while most of the year she stayed in Spain. They want her to pay tax in Spain on her worldwide income.
Shakira officially moved to Spain for tax purposes in 2015, after having two children by Pique.
A magistrate will assess whether there is enough evidence to put Shakira on trial.
Prosecutors want Shakira to pay a bond of 19.4 million euros — the amount they say she owes in tax, plus 33 percent, in accordance with Spanish law. Otherwise, they recommend a court freeze of her assets to that amount.
Shakira was named in the “Paradise Papers” leaks that detailed the offshore tax arrangements of numerous high-profile individuals, including musical celebrities like Madonna and U2’s Bono.
The documents were obtained by German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and investigated by Spanish news website El Confidencial.
Spain’s tax authorities referred their probe to the Barcelona prosecutor’s office a year ago.
Sports celebrities have also been in trouble with Spanish tax authorities, including soccer stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.


No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

Updated 32 min 58 sec ago
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No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

  • That is why the first rule of his bikers club is: you do not talk about politics
  • The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths

BAGHDAD: Roaring along Baghdad’s highways, the “Iraq Bikers” are doing more than showing off their love of outsized motorcycles and black leather: they want their shared enthusiasm to help heal Iraq’s deep sectarian rifts.
Weaving in and out of traffic, only the lucky few ride Harley Davidsons — a rare and expensive brand in Iraq — while others make do with bikes pimped-up to look something like the “Easy Rider” dream machines.
“Our goal is to build a brotherhood,” said Bilal Al-Bayati, 42, a government employee who founded the club in 2012 with the aim of improving the image of biker gangs and to promote unity after years of sectarian conflict.
That is why the first rule of his bikers club is: you do not talk about politics.
“It is absolutely prohibited to talk politics among members,” Bayati told Reuters as he sat with fellow bikers in a shisha cafe, a regular hangout for members.
“Whenever politics is mentioned, the members are warned once or twice and then expelled. We no longer have the strength to endure these tragedies or to repeat them,” he said, referring to sectarian violence.
With his black bandana and goatee, the leader of the Baghdad pack, known as “Captain,” looks the epitome of the American biker-outlaw.
But while their style is unmistakably US-inspired — at least one of Bayati’s cohorts wears a helmet emblazoned with the stars and stripes — these bikers fly the Iraqi flag from the panniers of their machines.
The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths. One of their most recent events was taking party in Army Day celebrations.
Some are in the military, the police and even the Popular Mobilization Forces, a grouping of mostly Shiite militias which have taken part in the fight to oust Islamic State from Iraq in the last three years.
“It is a miniature Iraq,” said member Ahmed Haidar, 36, who works with an international relief agency.
But riding a chopper through Baghdad is quite different from Route 101. The bikers have to slow down at the many military checkpoints set up around the city to deter suicide and car bomb attacks.
And very few can afford a top bike.
“We don’t have a Harley Davidson franchise here,” said Kadhim Naji, a mechanic who specializes in turning ordinary motorbikes into something special.
“So what we do is we alter the motorbike, so it looks similar ... and it is cheaper.”