It’s not too often we get to feature multiple movie stars in an email from ICIJ. It’s always exciting to see popular culture take up the challenge of illustrating the offshore world. If by chance you’re a film buff and headed to the Venice or Toronto film festivals in the next few weeks… let me know!!
Okay, that might not be what it’s called but there is a bit of buzz around the latest depiction of the Panama Papers – The Laundromat. This one comes to you from Steven Soderbergh who directed the film for Netflix. It’s hitting film festivals next month (Venice, then Toronto) and we’re excited to see Meryl Streep starring alongside Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman, who take on the roles of the Mossack Fonseca founders.
A former head of HSBC’s Private Bank has pleaded guilty to helping wealthy individuals hide $1.8 billion from French authorities. Peter Braunwalder was fined $560,000 and received a one-year suspended sentence. It was a rough week for the banking giant’s Swiss unit, which also agreed to pay $329 million in Belgium to settle a criminal probe. The charges come after our 2015 investigation, Swiss Leaks, revealed the bank was helping clients connected with arms trafficking, blood diamonds and bribery.
Or was that Moustache? The truth has come out about the owners of some of the novel code names we discovered during Bribery Division. “Little Pillow” and “Moustache” were among those used to conceal the identity of high-profile officials taking payments from Odebrecht. We now know the former Peruvian prime minister César Villanueva was “Curriculum Vita” and Lima’s former mayor, Susana Villarán was “Careca” (Portuguese for bald… she had a full head of hair).
The backbone of our investigation into Odebrecht, Bribery Division, was a 2014 spreadsheet that showed more than 600 payments made by the company’s Division of Structured Operations. (Of course, it was full of code names.) But there were other gems within the 13,000 leaked documents including one telling email chain about the subway system in Quito, Ecuador, and another suggesting payments be divided into “smaller payments” to avoid issues. Read them all, right here.
ICIJ’s community engagement editor