Over the last 48 hours, the so-called Panama Papers have rocked international journalism with their revelation of complex tax-evasion networks that have lent services to innumerable figures of the global political, economic, and cultural elite. Of course, it’s no surprise to anyone that many wealthy people hide their money in offshore banks and shell companies to avoid paying taxes, but never before have we been able to appreciate the depth and breadth of this legally blurry shadow economy.
Implicated in the data dump are a few international figures so intimately associated with corruption that it would have been a scandal for them not to make the list, while others who were conspicuously absent (read: Enrique Peña Nieto) still made it in through the backdoor thanks to friends or family members whose names did show up. Even in the world of global cinema the ripple effects of this historical revelation are being felt as Spain’s international name-brand auteur Pedro Almodóvar finds himself wrapped up in the whole affair just as his latest film Julieta makes its world premiere in Spain.
Thus far, Almodóvar has cancelled all of his scheduled appearances related to the promotion of the film’s theatrical release in his home country, including the film’s Barcelona premiere and a number of media events scheduled in Madrid. In the midst of the upheaval, Almodóvar’s brother Agustín has taken full responsibility for setting up the shell company known as the Glenn Valley Corporation, which operated out of the British Virgin Island between 1991 and 1994.
In an official statement, Agustín claimed that the two brothers maintain clearly delineated responsibilities within their production company, El Deseo, and that all business decisions clearly fell on his shoulders. After apologizing profusely for the damage the situation has done to his brother’s reputation, Agustín attributed the decision to bad advice and financial naiveté. There is no evidence that El Deseo has had an offshore accounts since the nineties.
Whatever the details surrounding this questionable decision actually were, at least the Almodóvar brothers can rest assured that they’re not alone. In fact, one could even say they’re in good company alongside cultural icons like Lionel Messi and Mario Vargas Llosa, who apparently fell into the same ethically abhorrent traps, whether by their own volition or bad advice from investment consultants. Whatever the outcome, they’ll all probably make out better than the prime minister of Iceland.