IRS apologizes to Ken Griffin and thousands of Americans for tax data leak

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Tuesday issued a public apology to billionaire Ken Griffin and thousands of Americans, including former President Donald Trump and Elon Musk who had their personal information leaked to the media.

“The Internal Revenue Service sincerely apologizes to Mr. Kenneth Griffin and the thousands of other Americans whose personal information was leaked to the press,” the IRS said in a statement. “The IRS takes its responsibilities seriously and acknowledges that it failed to prevent Mr. Littlejohn’s criminal conduct and unlawful disclosure of Mr. Griffin’s confidential data.”

“Accordingly, the IRS assures Mr. Griffin and the other victims of Mr. Littlejohn’s actions that it has made substantial investments in its data security to strengthen its safeguarding of taxpayer information. These investments address potential weaknesses in the IRS’s systems as identified by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), which provides independent oversight of the IRS,” the statement continued, adding it will continue to work to address potential vulnerabilities.

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The public apology comes as part of a settlement to a lawsuit brought by Citadel CEO Griffin against the IRS in the wake of the data breach, which occurred when IRS contractor Charles Littlejohn used his access to confidential tax return information to leak that data belonging to thousands of wealthy Americans to news outlets between 2018 and 2020.

CITADEL’S KEN GRIFFIN SUES IRS OVER ‘UNLAWFUL’ TAX RETURN LEAK

Littlejohn improperly accessed the data through an IRS database and uploaded the tax returns to a private website as a means of circumventing the agency’s safeguards to prevent large downloads or uploads from IRS devices and systems. 

He then saved the tax returns on multiple storage devices before passing along the data to media outlets in 2019 and 2020. Littlejohn gave Trump’s tax information to the New York Times and provided data on others, including Griffin and Musk, to ProPublica.

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IRS LEFT SENSITIVE TAXPAYER INFO VULNERABLE TO LEAKS, INSPECTOR GENERAL FINDS

In January, the 38-year-old Littlejohn was sentenced to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to unauthorized disclosure of tax returns and return information.

“I am grateful to my team for securing an outcome that will better protect American taxpayers and that will ultimately benefit all Americans,” Griffin said in a statement reacting to the IRS apology amid the settlement.

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Brooke Cucinella, an attorney for Griffin’s firm Citadel, appeared on “Special Report” on Tuesday to discuss the case and said, “This is, at the end of the day, the exact result that we were looking for. Ken brought this case with the hope of getting the IRS to do what was right by all Americans and really protect people’s information.”

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“The IRS has been told year after year that they have security vulnerabilities, and they’ve done nothing. So it took someone in Ken’s position, and I think we can all acknowledge, with Ken’s resources, to actually be able to pursue a case like this and get them to the point where they admitted publicly, finally, ‘we need to do something’ and they committed to all Americans today that they’re going to do that,” Cucinella added.

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