The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced that Stephen L. Cohen, associate director of the SEC’s enforcement division, plans to leave the agency later this month.
“Throughout his career at the SEC, Steve has made substantial and long-lasting contributions to the Commission’s mission,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, director of the SEC’s enforcement division, in a statement. “He has supervised significant cases involving a wide variety of misconduct and has been closely involved in the implementation of various enhancements to the enforcement program. His keen intellect and enthusiasm will be missed.”
Under Cohen’s leadership, the SEC has brought enforcement actions including a high-profile case against E-Trade Financial Corp. and several Ponzi schemes.
In October 2014, the SEC charged current and former brokerage subsidiaries of E-Trade with improperly selling penny stocks through unregistered offerings. According to the SEC, E-Trade failed in its gatekeeper role and improperly engaged in unregistered sales of microcap stocks on behalf of its customers. The regulator won a $2.5 million settlement.
In August 2012, Cohen helped the SEC shut down a $600 million online pyramid and Ponzi scheme. Fraud charges and an emergency asset freeze were brought against the operator of the scheme and his company for illegally raising money from more than 1 million internet customers nationwide and overseas through the website ZeekRewards.com. The CEO agreed to a $4 million fine.
Cohen also helped the SEC bring its first charges in an EB-5 visa offering fraud against Anshoo R. Sethi and two companies Sethi created to sell more than $147 million in securities to purportedly finance the construction of a hotel and conference center near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.
Another notable enforcement action during Cohen’s tenure included fraud charges against Computer Sciences Corp. and former executives. According to the SEC, CSC and its execs manipulated financial results and concealed significant problems with the company’s largest and most high-profile contract, which resulted in a $190 million penalty against CSC and approximately $5 million in monetary sanctions against the executives.
Cohen joined the SEC in 2004 as an assistant chief litigation counsel in the enforcement division from the Washington, D.C., office of Boies, Schiller & Flexner.