OK, It’s Out There: The Laudromat

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mv5bmgq1mdgxmwmtmjmznc00yme4lwjhnjctngu4zdk3mwy0zgfkxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtm2mzg4ma4040._v1_uy268_cr20182268_al_The new movie The Laudromat, based on the Panama Papers revelation/expose/crisis and starring Meryl Streep, is out there and available on NETFLIX.

It’s an interesting movie, a kind of combination drama, expose [not that there’s much left to expose], documentary.  It’s different, sometimes a little hard to follow connections, and at times kind of quirky, but it is well-worth watching.  Meryl Streep is an amazing actress who can take on any role, even several roles in the same movie.  The movie attempts to explain what the “Panama Papers” were all about, and how this underground shadowy world of shell companies, allows the rich and powerful to become more rich and powerful without being held accountable and along the way destroying the lives of ordinary folks like you and me.

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The documentary movie, PanamaPapers – The Shady World of Offshore Companies, produced by German TV and available on YOUTUBE, actually provides a better explanation of how this underground world of shell companies, revealed by the release of the “Panama Papers”, works.  The “Panama Papers” were in fact a shit-load of private emails of one of the leading law firms specializing in this legal sleight of hand.  The documentary is in English, German and Spanish, but the producers have thoughtfully included easy to read subtitles when people are speaking German or Spanish.  I would recommend watching the documentary before watching THE LAUNDROMAT.

What to me is most interesting that the firm at the center of the “Panama Papers,” Mossack Fonseca , is now suing NETFLIX for $10 BILLION, yes, “billion.”

Our local, Panamanian online English NEWSROOM PANAMA, reported, “Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca, the founders of the Panama law firm that creamed multi-millions from businessmen, politicians, sportsmen and celebrities seeking to avoid taxes through offshore front companies are now seeking their biggest haul,  a $10 billion lawsuit against  Netflix.

It was launched on Tuesday, October 15, three days after the platform premiered The Laundromat a film about the “Panama Papers”  scandal uncovered by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in 2016.

In the civil lawsuit, filed in the Connecticut District Court, in the United States,  the two lawyers, and the Mossack Fonseca & CO. and MF & CO Law Firm, claim from  Netflix the payment of $10 billion, for alleged defamation, invasion of deprivation, false advertising and trademark violation.  

The plaintiffs allege that The Laundromat) presents them “as ruthless and indifferent lawyers, who are involved in money laundering, tax evasion, bribes and / or other criminal conduct.” They also refer that the “real” name of both is used in the film, in a “defamatory” manner.

They indicate in the demand that in the advance of the film it is indicated that it is ” based on real crap “, and then the question appears: ” How do 15 million millionaires in 200 countries stay rich? “. Answer: ” with lawyers like these, ” and immediately appear actors Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas, who play Mossack and Fonseca, respectively, laughing “sinisterly, dressed in flashy clothes.”

Actress Meryl Streep, plays Ellen Martin, a widow deceived by the traps of the financial system and central character of the plot.”

THE LAUNDROMAT

According to THE NEW YORK TIMES, “In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Federal District Court in New Haven, Conn., the law firm and its partners — Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca — objected to their portrayal in the film as ‘ruthless, uncaring and unethical lawyers’ who engaged in money laundering, tax evasion and other criminal activities to benefit the wealthy . . . The law firm has sued Netflix for libel, invasion of privacy and trademarks violations, arguing that the law firm’s logo is placed in scenes that “allow viewers to associate it with very serious criminal and unethical behavior.” It is asking a judge to order that Netflix stop the film from being released for streaming. The film was already screened at film festivals in Venice and Toronto and has been released in a few theaters . . .  The firm said its role was to create companies and sell them off, but that they should not be painted as the villains if their clients ultimately sold those companies to ‘end users who were exposed as criminals.'”

PANAMA PAPERS

Mossack Fonseca argues that they produce shell companies, like a car factory produces cars.  If people use those cars wrongly, creating death and destruction, it is the end user that is responsible, not the manufacturer.

Were I advising Mossack Fonseca on damage control to their firm and image, I would have sued but only for a token sum.  All $10 BILLION does is highlight how lucrative it is to help the mega-wealthy, skirt the edge of the law and hide in the dark legal crevases of the world helping the filthy rich to get even weathier, while at the same time making obscene profits for lawyers.  $10 BILLION!?!?

Panama’s legal system is VERY different from the legal systems based on English common law and precident that many people, particularly those from North America, are used to.  Meryl Streep’s character illustrates that these kinds of financial shennanigans do in fact impact the poor, “little people” of the world.  $10 billion doesn’t earn a lot of good will or help a damaged reputation, but then, who cares?

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Yes, at time THE LAUDROMAT does get a little carried away with Hollywood imagination, like the lawyers “sinisterly, dressed in flashy clothes.”  Love them or hate them, no Panamanian lawyer would ever, dress like these guys!  Talk about wardrobe gone wild!  Panamanian lawyers don’t do flamboyant.  And is this intended to be some dig at sexual orientation?  Gay or straight, you can’t be a lawyer in Panama without always appearing at all times in a black suit, white shirt and tie.  Acceptable tie colors, red, blue or light blue, purple.  Maybe it’s the dumb, “sinisterly, dressed in flashy clothes”  image that warrants the $10 billion.