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SEC Loses Its First Cyber Enforcement Chief

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The SEC is losing its first policeman in charge of the Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit. The unit focuses on violations involving digital assets and cryptocurrencies as well as the disclosures and procedures of public companies and financial institutions related to cybersecurity.

Robert A. Cohen, who has worked in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement for 15 years and has headed up its cyber unit since 2017, is joining Davis Polk & Wardell, where he will serve on the firm’s White Collar Criminal Defense and Government Investigations Group, representing companies and boards in regulatory matters and internal investigations.

Also at David Polk are former SEC Commissioner Annette Nazareth and former SEC Enforcement Directors Gary Lynch and Linda Chatman Thomsen.

As chief of the SEC’s Cyber Unit, Cohen led multiple investigations involving initial coin offerings, including one that charged professional boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and musical producer DJ Khaled for failing to disclose payments received for promoting ICOs.

Cohen also led an investigation into the hacking of the SEC’s own Edgar database system, which resulted in charges against nine defendants including traders in Ukraine, Russia and California.

Before heading the Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit, Cohen was the co-chief of the agency’s Market Abuse Unit, where he supervised cases involving market structure and manipulation and insider trading. Among them were the insider trading cases against current Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., who’s facing 10 criminal counts for securities and wire fraud, and against Voya Financial Advisors for failings in its cybersecurity policies and procedures that resulted in compromising the personal information of thousands of customers. (The Collins case is pending; the Voya case was settled for $1 million.)

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, in a statement, said, he was “grateful to Rob for his thoughtfulness, expertise and leadership in taking on the creation of the Cyber Unit. 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.”

The cyber chief position has been posted on, with a salary range of roughly  $190,000 – $252,000, and the application deadline is Aug. 21.

— Check out SEC Charges Perpetrator of ICO Offering With Fraud on ThinkAdvisor.


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