'Panama Papers' law firm sues Netflix over film based on scandal

By Elida Moreno

Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm at the center of the "Panama Papers" scandal, has filed a lawsuit against Netflix Inc over its new movie based on the case, accusing the video streaming company of defamation and seeking to stop the film's release.

The Panama Papers, which consist of millions of documents stolen from Mossack Fonseca and leaked to the media in 2016, provoked a global scandal after showing how rich and powerful clients including Russian President Vladimir Putin and soccer superstar Lionel Messi used offshore corporations to evade taxes.

Netflix's film "The Laundromat" stars Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas as the two Mossack Fonseca partners at the center of the scandal, Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca. It was released on Friday.

"In its movie ... (Netflix) defames and portrays the plaintiffs (Mossack and Fonseca) as ruthless uncaring lawyers who are involved in money laundering, tax evasion, bribes and/or other criminal conduct," Mossack Fonseca said in the 42-page lawsuit, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. federal court in Connecticut on Oct 13.

In the official trailer for "The Laundromat," which co-stars Meryl Streep as a widow investigating insurance fraud, the following question is asked and answered in big, bold type: "How do 15 million millionaires in 200 countries stay rich? With lawyers like these."

The trailer then cuts to the elegantly dressed lawyers played by Oldman and Banderas laughing uproariously.

Mossack Fonseca shut down last year after being accused by U.S. prosecutors of helping clients conceal assets, investments and income from government tax authorities using a wide range of sham foundations and shell companies.

While Jurgen Mossack did not respond to requests for comment, a source close to both lawyers told Reuters that they maintain their position that the massive leak of the firm's internal documents consisted of "information theft or hacking" that was illegal.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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A real shame the release of these papers did not have a profound impact relative to their content. Maybe with a video interpretation, that could change.

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A shame the film was not well-made. Interesting and educational and sometimes funny, but overall a mess. And I couldn't get over Meryl Streep playing an ordinary woman who is victim to these offshore rackets, when she herself is known to be horrible to "little people" she encounters and also most likely makes use of these same offshore companies to protect her wealth.

Top be fair, they did break the 4th wall to state "the director of this film has 5 offshore companies, and even the writer has one." They didn't say how many Streep had.

The call for campaign finance reform at the end was weak, as that hardly addresses the issue. The issue is bloated and corrupt governments whose greed forces people who have built any wealth at all to hide it offshore if they hope to pass anything on to their children. They allow loopholes that create this swamp to protect the wealthiest of the lot, and the politicians among them. Meanwhile, the middle class gets screwed as always.

And of course the hypocrisy that the USA is the biggest money launderer in the world, yet they make the most noise when tiny countries like the Cayman Islands or Nevis go for a piece of the action.

I don't see this problem being solved soon. Criminals in the government steal from the people, but protect their richest friends. People with a little wealth take advantage of the loopholes so they don't lose everything they have worked for. Working people with no wealth pay for it. The laws will never change as long as there is money in it for the politicians.

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