Latin Stars' Concert Fees Investigated for Possible Fraud: Report

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Enrique Iglesias performs at Coliseo Jose M. Agrelot on March 6, 2015 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Panamanian officials question declared payments for Enrique Iglesias, Julio Iglesias, Alejandro Sanz and other artists

Enrique Iglesias, Alejandro Sanz and Julio Iglesias are among the artists named in an investigation by Panamanian tax authorities into possible tax evasion, concerning money they received for concerts in that country.

According to an extensive report in the Spanish newspaper El Pais, officials in Panama reached out to Spain’s federal tax agency for help in their inquiry into earnings by the artists and the promoters of high-profile concerts presented in Panama from 2011 to 2014.

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According to documents obtained by El Pais, the Panamanian officials have “suspicions” and “motives” to conclude that payments to the artists declared in contracts with promoters was false, and that artists may have been paid additional amounts. Spanish legend Raphael, and popular bands Oreja de Van Gogh and Jarabe de Palo were also named in the investigation.  

Enrique Iglesias was paid $90,000 for his performance at Panama City’s Convention Center in August 2014, according to a contract obtained by the Panamanian tax agency. He was paid an additional $50,000 for plane tickets and other expenses. According to El Pais, the Panamanian authorities note in their communication to Spanish tax officials that the Madrid-born Iglesias, who is listed in the inquiry as a Spanish national although his longtime residence is in Miami, is normally paid upwards of half a million dollars per concert. Iglesias publicist Joe Bonilla would not comment on questions from the Spanish newspaper.

Panama officials are also questioning a concert by pop star Alejandro Sanz who received a payment of $30,000, according to a contract with promoters Gazul Producciones, and Stereo 5000 Sonido y Luces for a 2013 Panama date.

In the case of Julio Iglesias, the Panama tax agency reached out to Spanish officials regarding a contractual payment of $22,000, since it stood out as a low figure for the international icon. Juan Velasco, representative for Iglesias in Spain, told El Pais that the investigation was moot since the singer has had his fiscal residence in the U.S. since 1978. He added that Iglesias’ fees vary widely, and he has even been known to perform for free.

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The Panamanians have also taken issue with a performance by Raphael in 2011, and were particularly drawn to claims that the groups Oreja de Van Gogh and Jarabe de Palo were paid only $3,000 for their respective concerts in the country.

“The plane tickets would cost more,” sources close to the investigation told El Pais. “It doesn’t make sense.”

The Panamanian tax officials maintain that if the artists were given additional payments apart from those declared in the contracts, they would be committing fraud. They have requested information from the Spanish authorities about the artists’ tax declarations in Spain coinciding with the years they performed in Panama, under an agreement by the two countries that prevents double taxation by the two countries.