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Shakira questioned by Spanish judge over alleged tax fraud

(AFP) – Colombian superstar Shakira was questioned by a judge near Barcelona on Thursday over alleged evasion of 14.5 million euros ($16.3 million) in taxes.

The 42-year-old singer avoided dozens of reporters, photographers and television cameras at the courthouse in Esplugues de Llobregat by entering and leaving via an adjacent garage.

The hearing of the performer, one of the biggest stars from Latin America who lives in Barcelona with footballer Gerard Pique and their two young sons, lasted an hour and 20 minutes, a court spokeswoman said.

She only responded to her lawyer, she added.

Prosecutors accuse her and one of her advisers of fraud after she allegedly failed to pay taxes in Spain despite being a resident between 2011 and 2014.

The case only covers the period from 2012 to 2014, however, as the timeframe to prosecute alleged tax offences in 2011 has expired.

Prosecutors say that while she moved to Spain in 2011 when her relationship with Pique was made public, she maintained her official tax residency in the Bahamas until 2015 when she started paying taxes in Spain.

Neither Shakira nor her lawyer spoke to the press, but her press team released a statement in which they said the artist was innocent.

They stressed that she had paid everything claimed by tax authorities.

“There is currently no debt,” read the statement.

‘Fulfilled’ tax duties

Her defence team had previously argued that until 2014 she earned most of her money in international tours and did not live more than six months a year in Spain — and was therefore not a resident under tax law.

The statement said “Shakira has always fulfilled her tax duties in all those countries in which she has worked, including in the period between 2011 and 2014.”

It added that she followed “the opinions and precise recommendations of her advisers, who are top-level professionals from one of the biggest companies in the world.”

This is the second time in just over two months that Shakira has appeared in court in Spain after having denied allegations she and Colombian singer Carlos Vives plagiarised part of their Grammy award-winning hit “La Bicicleta.”

The Madrid court subsequently cleared her and Vives, saying there had been “no plagiarism whatsoever.”

With her mix of Latin and Arabic rhythms and rock influences, Shakira is one of the biggest stars from Latin America, scoring major global hits with songs such as “Hips Don’t Lie” and “Whenever, Wherever.”

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