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Writer of ‘The Laundromat’ calls Panama Papers ‘crimes against humanity’

Scott Burns, Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman from 'The Laundromat' Image: Twitter

Writer and producer Scott Z.Burns has called the findings revealed by the Panama Papers “crimes against humanity”. His new film, The Laundromat, tells the story of the 2017 data leak from Panama-based corporate services provider Mossack Fonseca that sent shock waves around the world.

The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, where members of the cast, including award-winning actors Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas, and Gary Oldman, sat down to talk with Hollywood Reporter.  

Streep said, “I became aware of it, the deadlier aspects, when I got more involved with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).” Speaking about how the “press is under siege,” she praised the bravery of some 300 journalist who brought this story to the attention of the world. “People have died because of that information.”

In a separate interview with ET Canada, Streep announced that she was dedicating her performance to the “very brave” Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed with a massive car bomb just metres from her home in October 2017.

The actress explained that, though The Laundromat is presented as a comedy, it is a story about the bravery of whistleblowers and how we are increasingly reliant on them and on journalists to find out the truth.

“If we don’t change things politically with our votes,” she said, speaking of those implicated in scandals like the Panama Papers, “they will be robbing from our schools, infrastructure, and care of the environment by evading their taxes.”

The Panama Papers leak of some 11.5 million documents revealed detailed financial and lawyer-client information on over 214,400 offshore entities, including secret companies owned by government minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri.

The companies established by Mizzi and Schembri expected to receive $150,000 ( €135,990) per month from an entity called 17 Black, which journalists revealed was owned by Yorgen Fenech, a member of the Electrogas consortium that includes the Azerbaijan State energy company SOCAR. Azerbaijan is making large profits from selling Malta liquid natural gas at a price “well above the market rate” under a deal which has been described as sinister and “highly irregular”. 

Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri are the only public figures still holding positions of power in a European Union government after being exposed in the Panama Papers. 

A third company called Egrant Inc was established at the same time as those owned by Mizzi and Schembri, but its owner was deemed too sensitive to disclose by email. Assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia had reported that it belonged to the Prime Minister’s wife.

A magisterial inquiry, called for by the Prime Minister, was unable to find evidence that Michelle Muscat owns Egrant. The government has refused to publish the report in full.

International scrutiny of the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case has kept the spotlight on this story, despite this government’s efforts to dismiss it. Reporters Without Borders UK Bureau Director Rebecca Vincent told The Shift News earlier this week that “two years on, attention around the case is growing and discussions in the international fora are not dying down.” 

The Council of Europe gave the government of Malta three months to launch an independent public inquiry into Caruana Galizia’s murder. That deadline will expire in less than two weeks.

 

Petra Caruana Dingli at The Shift News

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