Over the weekend, Netflix dropped a new Steven Soderbergh film involving the real-life story of the Panama Papers. The film features Ellen Martin (Meryl Streep), who loses her husband in the Ethan Allen Boating accident, which sparks her to investigate a fraudulent company based in the Nevis.
While it’s all very confusing and complicated, the culprits behind all these offshore hideouts eventually traced back to two lawyers named Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca. In the film, these lawyers are cartoonishly portrayed by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas, and they assist the viewer in seeing their downfall.
But who were Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca, and what happened to them in the real story? Here is everything to know about the men behind the Panama Papers.
Who were Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca from The Laundromat?
Because we are not professional accountants, aspects of this may be confusing, but we will do our best to break it down.
Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca went from living an enviably comfortable life to being culprits in one of the largest financial scandals in recent memory just like Netflix’s new film “The Laundromat” depicted. They thought they could have their cake and eat it too until the government caught on.
According to the AP, at the top of the list of crimes Mossack and Fonseca committed is bribery. They used their position to allow a Brazilian company to send bribes to multiple places across the world.
Rather than taking the bull by the horns and admitting responsibility, Fonseca insists that it is the people who accepted the bribes from these companies that should be considered responsible.
He believes that the government is looking for someone to blame, and he and Mossack are the easiest targets. Shockingly, the amount of money the lawyers allowed to funnel through Odebrecht, the construction company that willingly admits guilt, totals at least $8 million.
According to another article by The Independent, after their law offices were raided, the two men faced a grueling two days of questioning before they were placed under arrest by authorities concerning the money laundering that the lawyers tried so hard to keep hidden. Though the case is far from over, the two men were released on bail and are waiting to go to trial.
What are the Panama Papers from The Laundromat, and how were Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca connected?
According to Forbes, the Panama Papers was one of the most significant data leaks that could easily rival Edward Snowden’s political CIA leak. This exposed Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca’s law firm for having various offshore trusts, and the connections spanned several countries and well-known people.
The law firm these two men ran out of Panama and utilized the sketchy advertisement of giving “research, advice and services for the following jurisdictions: Belize, The Netherlands, Costa Rica, United Kingdom, Malta, Hong Kong, Cyprus, British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Panama, British Anguilla, Seychelles, Samoa, Nevada, and Wyoming (USA).”
What may not be understood by an average person is that it is illegal to have an offshore trust account to avoid paying taxes. And one taxpayer got tired of it and came forward with the Panama Papers with no payback financial or otherwise.
The sole motivation of this person was a sheer desire for the underhanded things going on to come to light.
Once again, much like Snowden’s CIA leaks, journalists came to the rescue. They combed over all the documents, which included emails and photos, and made all of the data public.
The power of the free press brought down some big-name leaders, including the leader of Iceland, who resigned in shame. But the repercussions of the Panama Papers are far from over.
According to The Guardian, overwhelmingly, most people exposed for avoiding paying the government taxes are politicians who are in the government game themselves.
A shocking web weaves throughout these documents that explain how the crazy wealthy get away with hiding their money, via help from law firms like Mossack and Fonseca.
And in any way the web is woven, world leaders whose names were mentioned in these documents are scared of the consequences sure to follow.
The Laundromat is streaming now on Netflix.