A court in the Spanish city of Barcelona has ordered pop star Shakira to face trial over an estimated €14.5 million tax (nearly $14 million) fraud case.
The bench ruled that proceedings should go ahead despite the musician already having paid the amount that the Spanish Tax Agency demanded, plus another €3 million in interest.
In July, prosecutors said they were seeking a jail term of eight years for the 45-year-old singer.
What is Shakira accused of?
The court ruled that Shakira should answer for six crimes against the Spanish Treasury, between the years 2012 and 2014.
The "Whenever, Wherever" singer allegedly pretended she was not living in Spain while she was actually residing in the country with her partner, Spanish soccer player Gerard Pique. The couple, who have two children, announced their separation last June.
At the time of the alleged fraud, Shakira was officially registered as living in the tax haven of the Bahamas despite living in Spain for more than the 183 days a year stipulated by law.
The prosecution accuses her of having used a "corporate framework" created years earlier to avoid paying the taxes.
The court did not impose any precautionary measures ahead of the trial, to take place on a yet-to-be-determined date.
Counteraccusation from singer
Prosecutors and the singer's defense sought an agreement to avoid the trial, but in July Shakira rejected the possibility. The star has said she is confident that justice will support her side of the story.
In an interview with the magazine "Elle," Shakira accused the Spanish tax authorities of resorting to "a salacious press campaign to try to sway people, and apply pressure in the media along with the threat of reputational damage in order to coerce settlement agreements."
"It is well known that the Spanish tax authorities do this often not only with celebrities like me, it also happens unjustly to the regular taxpayer. It's just their style. But I'm confident that I have enough proof to support my case and that justice will prevail in my favor."
Blending Latin and Arabic rhythms with rock influence, three-time Grammy winner Shakira has notched up numerous global hits with songs such as "Hips don't Lie," and "Waka Waka," the official song of the 2010 World Cup.
Several prominent stars have been charged with tax evasion in Spain in recent years, including football stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Both players were found guilty of tax evasion and received prison sentences that were waived for first-time offenders.
In many cases, such stars may strike deals to avoid jail time by paying fines and settling their tax debts.
rc/dj (AFP, EFE)