IRS apologizes to billionaire Ken Griffin for tax records leak

The Internal Revenue Service issued a rare apology to billionaire investor Ken Griffin for leaking his tax returns to the press.

The apology comes after Monday’s settlement of a lawsuit that Citadel’s CEO filed against the IRS in 2022, alleging that an agency employee illegally leaked his tax returns to the news site ProPublica.

In 2021, ProPublica also published tax information on other billionaires, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and real estate mogul Stephen Ross, in a 2021 series called “The Secret IRS Files”.

The apology is part of a settlement of a lawsuit filed in 2022 by Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin against the IRS, alleging that an agency employee illegally leaked his tax returns to the news site ProPublica. AFP via Getty Images

The IRS employee in question — government contractor Charles Littlejohn — also leaked confidential tax returns of thousands of other wealthy Americans to The New York Times.

The former government contractor was sentenced to five years in prison in January after he pleaded guilty to unauthorized disclosure of tax returns.

“The IRS takes its responsibilities seriously and acknowledges that it failed to prevent Mr. Littlejohn’s criminal conduct and Mr. Griffin’s unlawful disclosure of confidential data,” the IRS said in a statement.

“Accordingly, the IRS assures Mr. Griffin and other victims of Mr. Littlejohn’s actions that it has made substantial investments in its data security to strengthen the protection of taxpayer information.”

Littlejohn accessed the tax data through an IRS database and uploaded it to a private website to circumvent agency barriers that prevent mass downloads. He also provided former President Donald Trump’s tax information to The New York Times and information on others, including Griffin, to ProPublica.

“They violated the terms of their contract and broke the trust the American people place in the IRS to protect their sensitive information,” the IRS said in a statement.

Charles Littlejohn accessed tax data through IRS databases and uploaded it to a private website to bypass agency barriers that prevent mass downloads. Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
ProPublica has also published tax information for other billionaires, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and real estate tycoon Stephen Ross. Griffin and Bezos met in Miami last year. Getty Images for American Express Presents Carbone Beach

The billionaire’s attorney, William A. Burke of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, said the suit was brought after years of procrastination.

“Although the IRS has acknowledged its failures, apologized to the thousands of Americans who suffered, and promised to protect taxpayer information in the future, it’s critical that we all hold it accountable for fulfilling that promise,” Burke said in a statement to the Post.

“I am grateful to my team for achieving an outcome that will better protect American taxpayers and that will ultimately benefit all Americans,” Griffin said in a statement Tuesday to multiple news outlets, including CBS and Fox.

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