Shakira says Spanish tax collectors "started to salivate" when they saw she was dating soccer star Gerard Piqué, a native of Barcelona. And she says those authorities are completely in the wrong regarding $16 million she allegedly failed to pay in taxes from 2012 to 2014.
The Colombian singer was charged with tax evasion in Spain in 2018. Authorities said in July that they would ask a court to sentence Shakira to eight years and two months in prison if she's convicted.
But she's not budging.
She told Elle in an interview published Wednesday that she had to fight the charges because the accusations are false. She says she didn't qualify as a resident of Spain during the years she is accused of tax evasion.
"First of all, I didn’t spend 183 days per year at that time at all. I was busy fulfilling my professional commitments around the world," Shakira said.
"Second, I’ve paid everything they claimed I owed, even before they filed a lawsuit. So as of today, I owe zero to them. And finally, I was advised by one of the four biggest tax specialist firms in the world, PricewaterhouseCoopers, so I was confident that I was doing things correctly and transparently from day one."
Shakira said tax authorities were mounting a "salacious press campaign" to apply pressure — as in, the threat of reputational damage — in hopes of eliciting a settlement deal. She accused them of tracking her whereabouts via social media once she started dating footballer Piqué in 2011.
"While Gerard and I were dating, I was on a world tour. I spent more than 240 days outside of Spain, so there was no way I qualified as a resident," she said.
"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. ... They knew I wasn’t in Spain the required time, that Spain wasn’t my place of work or my source of income, but they still came after me, with their eyes on the prize."
Shakira said she was confident that justice would prevail in her favor when the case goes to trial. "I have enough proof."
And if that's not enough to manage, the singer has also been dealing with the breakup of her high-profile marriage — with the attendant tabloid attention on her and her kids — as well as her health issues.
"I have paparazzi camping outside, in front of my house, 24/7," she said. "And there’s not a place where I can hide from them with my kids, except for my own house. You know, we can’t take a walk in the park like a regular family or go have an ice cream or do any activity without paparazzi following us. So it’s hard."
The relationship she had with Piqué has been cheapened by the media, she said, which is so disappointing.
This, Shakira said, "is probably the darkest hour of my life."
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.