MADRID (Reuters) - Colombian superstar Shakira vowed to fight what she claimed were "false" accusations by Spanish authorities that she dodged 14.5 million euros ($14.31 million) in taxes, in her first public comments on a case that could see her sent to prison for up to eight years.
Shakira, 45, is facing trial in Spain accused of failing to pay taxes between 2012 and 2014, a period in which she said she was leading a "nomadic life" because of her work.
"I have to fight for what I believe because these are false accusations," the 'Hips don't lie' singer told Elle magazine in an interview published online in the United States on Wednesday and due to run in its October print edition. "I owe zero to them."
The prosecutor's document, seen by Reuters, asserts that Shakira spent more than half of each year in Spain between 2012 and 2014, and in May 2012 bought a family home in Barcelona. In July last year, a Spanish judge said he had seen "sufficient evidence" for Shakira to face trial. A second judge rejected her appeal against the decision in May.
Shakira, who in July rejected a deal with the prosecutor to settle the case, says the authorities only came after her "with their eyes on the prize" when they found out she was dating FC Barcelona soccer player Gerard Pique, who is Spanish.
"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," the singer claimed.
Shakira added that she had already paid what the Spanish tax office said she owed before they filed a lawsuit.
She said she was confident that she had behaved correctly and transparently from the beginning, suggesting the Spanish authorities "resorted to a salacious press campaign" to damage her reputation.
The combination of her recent separation from Pique, a custody battle for their two children, the illness of her father and "fighting on different fronts" meant she was facing "probably the darkest hour of my life," the singer said.
A spokesperson for the Spanish prosecutor's office was not immediately available for comment.
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(Reporting by Emma Pinedo, editing by Aislinn Laing and Susan Fenton)