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."
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: