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Opera star Montserrat Caballé reaches deal to avoid jail for tax evasion

Spanish soprano to pay fine after already returning the €500,000 she withheld in 2010

Montserrat Caballé has reached a deal to avoid going to jail for tax evasion.

World-famous soprano Montserrat Caballé is close to ending the darkest chapter of her career.

The opera singer has reached a deal with the Spanish tax authorities over more than €500,000 that prosecutors claim she withheld in income tax on her 2010 return.

Under the terms of the agreement, Caballé will admit her guilt and pay 50 percent of the expected fine, while prosecutors will seek a reduced prison sentence, and thus avoid the need for the case to go to trial, legal sources told EL PAÍS. Because Caballé has no criminal record and any sentence would be short, the singer will not have to go to jail.

The singer, who is 81 and in precarious health, has been seeking a deal ever since she was targeted by tax authorities last spring.

In 2012, Caballé suffered a stroke and broke her arm while in Russia for a performance

Prosecutors believe she avoided the income tax payment in 2010 by using an Andorra-based company to handle €2 million earned from her European performances. Her payments were made to an account in an Andorran bank.

In 2010, Caballé performed in Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Russia and Ukraine. She also recorded works in Moscow, Geneva and Barcelona.

Although the singer lives in Barcelona, for tax purposes she is registered in the nearby principality of Andorra.

Caballé has already paid the defrauded amount, a little over €508,000, and is expected to agree to pay around another250,000 in fines.

In 2012, Caballé suffered a stroke and broke her arm while in Russia for a performance. Her delicate health meant she had to answer the judge and prosecutor’s questions from inside her Barcelona home.

The singer has claimed that she was unaware of how her income was being handled for tax purposes, and that it had been the responsibility of a paid tax adviser who has since passed away.

Other Spanish celebrities who have run into trouble with the tax authorities of late include Ana Torroja, former singer in 1980s pop group Mecano, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion and will have to pay the state €1.5 million; singers Alejandro Sanz, Lola Flores and Isabel Pantoja; tennis player Rafa Nadal; soccer star Leo Messi, and flamenco dancer Joaquin Cortés.