Shakira trended on Twitter Friday as fans and social media users reacted to a report that she could face several years in prison and tens of millions of dollars in fines in her tax fraud case.
The 45-year-old Colombian singer is accused of defrauding Spain’s government of €14.5 million ($15 million) in taxes between 2012 and 2014. Shakira said she did not live in Spain during that period, but Spanish prosecutors insisted that she was ordinarily resident in the country between 2012 and 2014 and bought a house in Barcelona in May 2012.
Shakira rejected a plea deal from prosecutors and said she would take her chances at trial. A Spanish prosecutor is seeking an eight-year prison sentence and a fine of more than €23 million ($23.5 million) for Shakira if she’s found guilty, according to documents reviewed by Reuters Friday.
The news garnered a massive response on Twitter, with many fans and social media users posting memes and joking about breaking into prison to free Shakira if she is jailed.
Others said Shakira does not deserve jail time, especially since the Latin pop superstar claimed that she has paid the €17.2 million ($17.5 million) that the Spanish tax office said she owed and has no outstanding debt with the tax authorities.
“Spanish prosecutors are corrupt and anti-Catalan, and Shakira is now paying the consequences of that,” one Twitter user claimed.
“She already paid. That shows better faith in her actions than the court’s insistence and now adding years of jail. This sounds more like someone is upset she refused to go out with them and now they’re abusing power,” another alleged.
“They’ve been doing this with [Cristiano] Ronaldo, Neymar, [Lionel] Messi and [Gerard] Pique. They just want headlines for being hard on crime and then they’ll say she paid a fine and is on probation for a year,” a third user suggested.
Some criticized Shakira for allegedly not paying her taxes despite being worth an estimated $300 million.
“She is super rich and not paying her taxes,” one Twitter wrote, while another added, “People are really defending her for evading paying taxes.”
“Being a rich celebrity doesn’t exempt you from the law,” another commented.
On Wednesday, Shakira’s public relations team team said the singer opted to go to trial instead of accepting a deal offered by Spanish prosecutors to settle the charges against her, the Associated Press reported.
Shakira “trusts her innocence and chooses to leave the issue in the hands of the law,” the PR firm Llorente y Cuenca said in its statement.