For once, the "biggest leak in history", as the Panama Papers are being called, is not hyperbole. An international team of journalists have gotten hold of 2.6-terabytes of data about offshore savings and tax havens. The 11.5 million documents from Panama-based legal firm Mossack Fonseca were leaked by an anonymous source to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung. They were then passed on to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICJ).
From there, things started to scale up to epic levels: 370 reporters from 100 different media organisations around the world have since worked on this project, for over a year now. And on Monday, April 4, the lid was blown off. Newspapers and media organisations around the world hit publish, and this is believed to be only the beginning.
Naturally, almost immediately, #PanamaPapers hit the top of Twitter trends and stayed there quite a while - because this leak is bigger than the 2010 diplomatic cables leak by WikiLeaks and even the stash of NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden three years ago.
Here's Matthew Yglesias simplifying the company's operations for Vox:
"The firm's operations are diverse and international in scope, but they originate in a single specialty - helping foreigners set up Panamanian shell companies to hold financial assets while obscuring the identities of their real owners. Since its founding in 1977, it's expanded its interests outside of Panama to include over 40 offices worldwide, helping a global client base to work with shell companies not just in Panama but also the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, and other notorious tax havens around the world."
Ashish Shakya sums it up best:
RICH PEOPLE WILL DO ANYTHING TO STAY RICH #panamapapers- Ashish Shakya (@stupidusmaximus) April 4, 2016
Global Capitalism!" says Arun Nambiar, never to be accused of understatement when over will do:
The Indian end of the investigation was run by the Indian Express, with 25 investigative journalists involved. Their list includes about 500 Indians, of which the best-known are actor Amitabh Bachchan and his daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
But just because an international crisis of epic proportions is under way, should things get all gloomy and anxious? Not while Twitter's around! Here's the best of the snark on the subject:
Amitabh Bachchan in a Panama hat! pic.twitter.com/LYC3c8ag6U- Madhavan Narayanan (@madversity) April 4, 2016
'Big B, Aishwarya in the list of Panama papers leak', Abhishek Bachchan must be proud of being the 'least known celebrity' in the house- EngiNerd. (@mainbhiengineer) April 4, 2016
Russia: PutinChina: Li PengSaudi Arabia: King SalmanPakistan: Nawaz SharifIndia: Ex-local leader of party w/ zero MPs/MLAs #PanamaPapers- Sadanand Dhume (@dhume) April 4, 2016
Screw the Panama papers. Today's finest investigative piece is in the comments' section. pic.twitter.com/ajEeDswQGI- Rohan (@mojorojo) April 4, 2016
My version of the Panama Papers is if anyone leaks my Zomato order history- Rohan (@mojorojo) April 4, 2016
No, they haven't been hiding their money. They've been hiding ours. By calling it theirs. #panamapapers- Nein. (@NeinQuarterly) April 4, 2016
#PanamaPapersTerrified that my name and bank account will be on a soon-to-be-released list called Sahakar Nagar Papers.- Ramesh Srivats (@rameshsrivats) April 4, 2016
India shouldn't feel bad about poor performance so far in #panamapapers cup. Top players too busy on domestic circuit to play overseas.- Sadanand Dhume (@dhume) April 4, 2016
"Please, we can't be seen with them. They weren't even mentioned in the Panama Papers."- Eddy Elfenbein (@EddyElfenbein) April 4, 2016
Waiting to see which English movie TV channel will program 'The Tailor of Panama' on a prime slot first.- Rishi Majumder (@RishiMajumder) April 4, 2016
Panama Papers sound like something you use to roll Columbian Weed.- Vir Das (@thevirdas) April 4, 2016
#panamapapers : People have millions of dollars in their offshore accounts & I'm just happy receiving Rs. 10 cashback on my mobile recharge.- Trendulkar (@Trendulkar) April 4, 2016
Another list I am not part of. My family is *this* close to disowning me. #PanamaPapers- Sachin Kalbag (@SachinKalbag) April 4, 2016
I don't even have enough money in my domestic account. Offshore account, toh door ki baat #panamapapers- Fifi (@Alfifius) April 4, 2016
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