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Citadel’s Ken Griffin Taps Musk, Pro Golfer Law Firm in IRS Tilt

Dec. 14, 2022, 10:30 AM

Billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin is taking on the Internal Revenue Service with the help of Quinn Emanuel, the same law firm aiding some pro golfers’ fight against the PGA Tour and that assisted Elon Musk in a battle with Twitter.

Firm co-managing partner William Burck signed a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Florida federal court seeking to hold the IRS and the U.S. Treasury Department liable for the disclosure of Griffin’s confidential financial information.

Burck has also represented billionaire Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross in a discrimination case brought by former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores against the NFL.

The firm’s Tuesday action on behalf of Griffin follows ProPublica stories earlier this year the outlet said were based on “a vast trove” of IRS data it obtained. Griffin reported average annual income of $1.7 billion between 2013 and 2018 and paid a tax rate of 29.2%, the report said.

Citadel, the massive hedge fund Griffin founded, has been turning to Quinn Emanuel for other needs. The firm helped Citadel last year fend off a proposed class-action suit alleging it colluded with trading platform Robinhood Markets Inc. during the meme-stock frenzy of January 2021.

Quinn Emanuel co-founder John Quinn is among a group at his firm representing some pro golfers who sued the PGA Tour in August after the league suspended them for joining the Saudi-backed rival, LIV Golf. The firm also represented Musk in litigation tied to his bid to back out of his Twitter Inc. purchase. The litigation stalled after Musk went through with the purchase.

Quinn Emanuel did not immediately return a request for comment through a spokesman.

Tax Trove

ProPublica said its report on some of the wealthiest individuals in the U.S. and their tax obligations was based on “tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years.” Michael Bloomberg, who controls entities that operate Bloomberg Law, was among those included in the reporting.

US officials have said they are working with federal investigators to find the source of the privacy breach.

Griffin’s suit claims that the IRS ‘s “willful and intentional failure” to establish safeguards over information constituted a violation of federal privacy law and that the defendants should be on the hook for financial damages.

The Quinn Emanuel lawyers working alongside Burck on the matter include Derek Shaffer, a leader of the firm’s government and regulatory litigation practice, as well as partners Jason Sternberg, Alexander J. Merton, Christopher Kercher and John Bash. The Los Angeles-based firm made Burck a co-managing partner earlier this year.

The firm reported over $1.6 billion in revenue in 2021, according to the American Lawyer, making it among the 25 largest in the US.

To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Wise at jwise@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com