SEC Cyber Unit Chief to Depart


The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Robert A. Cohen, Chief of the Division of Enforcement’s Cyber Unit, will be leaving the agency in August after 15 years of service.

Mr. Cohen is the first Chief of the Cyber Unit, created in 2017. The unit focuses on violations involving digital assets and cryptocurrency, cyber-related trading violations such as hacking to obtain material nonpublic information, and cybersecurity disclosures and procedures at public companies and financial institutions. Previously, Mr. Cohen was Co-Chief of the Market Abuse Unit.

“I’m grateful to Rob for his thoughtfulness, expertise, and leadership in taking on the creation of the Cyber Unit,” said Chairman Jay Clayton. “He leaves the unit well-positioned to continue the critical work of protecting our markets and retail investors in this complex and continually developing area.”

“Rob has been a true leader in the Enforcement Division,” said Stephanie Avakian, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “We relied on Rob to lead the Cyber Unit because of his record of handling complex, high priority enforcement cases with both toughness and fairness, while also mentoring and training countless SEC attorneys and supervisors.”

“The Cyber Unit has been a great success under Rob’s strategic leadership,” said Steven Peikin, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Soon after its creation, the Cyber Unit immediately began filing impactful cases that protect investors and demonstrate the SEC’s ability to respond nimbly to new and difficult challenges.”

Mr. Cohen said, “It has been a privilege working with great colleagues at the SEC, whom I cannot thank enough for their commitment, perseverance, and friendship. I am proud of our work together, which has had a strong and positive impact for investors.”

As Chief of the Cyber Unit, Mr. Cohen led groundbreaking investigations, including cases involving:

  • a wide-spread fraudulent initial coin offering (ICO);
  • celebrities who promoted ICOs without disclosing their compensation;
  • several issuers that sold digital tokens to retail investors in unregistered securities offerings;
  • the founder of an unregistered securities exchange that traded digital tokens;
  • a hacker and multiple traders who hacked into the SEC’s EDGAR system, and
  • a broker-dealer and investment adviser that had deficient cybersecurity procedures.

Previously, as Co-Chief of the Market Abuse Unit, Mr. Cohen supervised market structure, insider trading, and manipulation cases, such as cases involving national stock exchanges, dark pools, retail order handling, and order routing. The insider trading cases Mr. Cohen supervised include illegal trading based on confidential government information and information received from a U.S. Congressman, as well as an insider trading scheme involving a middleman who ate post-it notes containing the tips. Earlier in his career, Mr. Cohen worked on cases involving accounting violations by public issuers, violations by hedge funds, and a $118 million settlement involving an ultra-short bond fund that declined during the financial crisis.

Mr. Cohen joined the SEC’s Enforcement Division from private practice in 2004. He was promoted to Branch Chief in 2008, Assistant Director in 2010, Co-Deputy Chief of the Market Abuse Unit in 2013, Co-Chief of the unit in 2015, and Chief of the Cyber Unit in 2017. He received his J.D. from New York University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Cornell University.

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