IRS Takes Confidentiality Seriously

We’ve been talking about IRS whistleblowers lately. One of the features of the program is that it is meant to provide anonymity to the whistleblower. Otherwise, that person could potentially face serious physical and financial harm.

Well, it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes, you run into a corrupt government official seeing a way to better his own finances. That, apparently was the case with Dennis Lerner, a former IRS official. Lerner allegedly took advantage of his inside knowledge of an IRS investigation of certain international bank (which Reuters identifies as German-based Commerzbank AG). He parlayed that information to get himself a lucrative position with the bank, revealing the identity of the whistleblower and other key information. Lerner has been arrested and is awaiting trial. This is apt to land him in jail for 20 years.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, Dennis Lerner’s violations of basic conflict of interest laws were brazen and continued in the face of warnings about his conduct. Not only did he flout those laws in order to curry favor with a prospective employer, but he also illegally disclosed the identity of a whistleblower, as the Complaint alleges. As this defendant now knows, this Office will aggressively prosecute those who violate their legal and ethical obligations as government employees.”

In addition to auditing the IRS’s operations, it is also the function of the Office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (“TIGTA) to investigate all reports of impropriety by IRS staff. They take this role quite seriously.

So it boggles the mind why anyone at such a high level of the IRS would risk such blatant behavior. What kind of extenuating circumstances can this fellow possibly have? Or is he terminally ill and wanted to live large, at least once before dying?

To read more of the details in the TIGTA and the US Attorney’s announcements, click here.