A Beaconite who regularly covers the financial services industry was looking forward to watching the new Netflix original film The Laundromat, directed by Steven Soderbergh, which tells the tale of the 2016 “Panama Papers” leak that led to the downfall of international law firm Mossack Fonseca. The Virgin Islands doesn’t play a particularly large role in the film, even though roughly half of the thousands of companies incorporated by the firm were VI-based. The territory’s most prominent moment is toward the end, when the actors playing the firm’s founders rant about the Financial Services Commission’s decision to fine Mossack Fonseca $440,000 for violating anti-money-laundering statutes. “They should be building a statue of us instead, you know?” rails Ramon Fonseca (played by Antonio Banderas). “They would be a pile of sand with a [expletive] palm tree sticking out of it if not for us!” The Beaconite thinks that the characters were giving themselves entirely too much credit. Clearly, the development of the financial services in the VI played an extraordinarily large role in developing the territory’s economy, leading to the standard of living it has today. But given that Mossack Fonseca has been defunct for three years and the industry hasn’t gone anywhere, she prefers to think that the territory has learned a thing or two in that time and is agile and innovative enough to keep afloat, even if it means focusing on new industries and evolving from methods used in the early years. The VI has already met and faced several existential challenges — Hurricane Irma and “economic substance” rules being prominent ones — without the Panamanian firm’s help. Of course, in popular culture, the film probably won’t help the VI’s reputation, but one thing she has learned about VI financial services is that it’s mostly immune to what pop culture thinks of it. The Beaconite doesn’t think the film will change that.
The early bird
A Beaconite was early to two press conferences last week, both of which were delayed. At the first, she was the only media representative who attended a press event that was delayed by over an hour. Given ministers’ busy schedules, the reporter understands the challenges they may face in attending press conferences that begin later in the day, but she nevertheless wishes that they would work harder to show up on time. That being said, she also found that everyone in the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports acted professionally and was considerate of the attendees. At another conference, this time at the governor’s house, she showed up early and waited on other media houses to arrive. The organisers were trying hard to contact the other media houses to urge them to arrive promptly since the governor also runs on a tight schedule. Unforeseen circumstances can cause these delays, but the reporter also urges journalists to be mindful and considerate as well. Each reporter is accounted for, and any tardiness is noticed. Even a text message notification can help in the long run.
One of the reasons a Beaconite loves journalism is that the occupation constantly presents opportunities to learn something new or try a novel activity. Such was the case when the Beaconite showed up to the Save the Seed Energy Centre recently to take pictures of a basketball game. The Beaconite had never been a big sports fan nor had he ever photographed a sporting event. But shortly after setting up his camera and settling into the rhythm of the game, he was engaged by the challenge of photographing a subject that moves so quickly and has so many components. Though the task was difficult at first, the Beaconite identified some tricks (figure out which team is scoring the most points and keep an eye on the other team’s net, for one) that helped him collect a solid set of shots. Going into the night, the Beaconite was nervous he’d botch the assignment. Leaving the stadium, he was looking forward to trying again and further improving this new skill.