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In 2018 the Spanish government accused Shakira of tax evasion, with authorities seeking an eight-year prison sentence for the singer, who has adamantly denied the accusations instead of seeking a settlement.

Shakira spoke at length about the charges for the first time in a new Elle cover story, calling them “false accusations” and claiming she has paid what she owes. Posed with the court’s argument that she was a resident of Spain for tax purposes from 2011 to 2014, Shakira refuted the point and said she “was busy fulfilling my professional commitments around the world,” and affirmed, “as of today, I owe zero to [Spanish government].”

“However, even without evidence to support these fictional claims, as they usually do, they’ve resorted 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,” she continued. “It is well known that the Spanish tax authorities do this often not only with celebrities like me (or [Cristiano] Ronaldo, Neymar, [Xabi] Alonso, and many more), 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.”

When the case was reported by media outlets around the world in December of 2018, Shakira shared a brief statement on the issue through her representatives stating that the government was using her “as a scapegoat” to get guilty taxpayers to confess their crimes. What followed was a string of court appearances where the Colombian musician denied the allegations, but ultimately, a judge ruled in favor of taking her to trial. In May, Shakira attempted to appeal the case, but a court dismissed the appeal.

Despite not having released a full studio album since 2017, Shakira detailed her plans to release music in the near future. She buzzed about the “full album’s worth of music” that she plans to share with the public on her own timeline, “And some songs you’ll hear imminently, some are collaborations. Some are in English and some in Spanish, different genres.”

The singer also spoke to Elle about her very public split with Spanish soccer star Gerard Piqué, with whom she shares two children.

“Oh, this is really hard to talk about personally, especially as this is the first time I’ve ever addressed this situation in an interview,” she explained. “I try to conceal the situation from [my children] as much as I can. It’s really upsetting for two kids who are trying to process their parents’ separation. And sometimes I just feel like this is all a bad dream and that I’m going to wake up at some point. But no, it’s real. And what’s also real is the disappointment to see something as sacred and as special as I thought was the relationship I had with my kids’ father and see that turned into something vulgarized and cheapened by the media.”

In particular, Shakira called out the Spanish press for tracking her children “every second, photographed at school drop-off, or followed by paparazzi…Regardless of how things ended or how Gerard and I feel about each other as ex-partners, he is the father of my children.” She also responded to a question about her ex-partner’s new relationship saying those details were “somehow too private to share, at least at this very moment—everything is so raw and new.”

Adding to the distress, the singer’s 91-year-old father recently fell ill and had to spend time in the ICU, which led her to conclude “this is probably the darkest hour of my life. But then I think about all those women around the world who are going through hardship, who are going through a situation as bad as mine or as difficult as mine or worse.”