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“If you’re going to leak something to TechCrunch, don’t do it from your work email,” TechCrunch coeditor Alexia Tsotsis tweeted this afternoon.

The tweet in question references TechCrunch’s middle-man role in a Facebook IPO-related legal matter that ended with underwriter Citigroup being hit with a $2 million fine, and the firm terminating one of its top research analysts.

Tsotsis has a point about using a work email account to leak information, especially if the information in question involves the most hotly anticipated consumer Internet public offering since Google. Yet that’s exactly what a Citigroup junior analyst did ahead of Facebook’s IPO.

The traceable email, which included confidential research on Facebook’s risks and its financials, led to the firing of the junior analyst and today’s axing of his boss, Mark Mahaney, Citi’s senior research analyst. Mahaney, according to his LinkedIn profile, was the number one ranked Internet analyst by Institutional Investor Magazine from 2008 to 2011. We’re going to hazard a guess that the honor won’t be bestowed on Mahaney for 2012.

As outlined in a court settlement document involving The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ securities division and Citigroup, junior analyst Eric Jacobs emailed two reporters at TechCrunch on May 2 with the non-public information, which included an email attachment that outlined Citi’s internal research on the social network.

The Massachusetts division uncovered the email after obtaining a subpoena “concerning a separate matter in connection with the Facebook IPO,” according to the court document. Citi settled with the division for its failure to prevent the disclosure of the confidential research, a violation of securities law, and other charges. The firm was hit with a $2 million fine for the violations.

Mahaney, meanwhile, was fired today for allegedly trying to cover up the violations, according to the Wall Street Journal. Separately, Business Insider used information provided in the court document to piece together the identities of Jacobs and the TechCrunch reporters involved, Josh Constine, a Stanford pal of Jacobs’, and Kim-Mai Cutler.

All television-worthy drama, I’d say. Good thing we have that Silicon Valley reality show to look forward to.

Photo credit: lev radin /

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