SEC Chief Who Investigated ICO Fraud Departs after 15 Years

August 13, 2019 | Digital Assets, Latest News

The SEC loses a key leader with cryptocurrency prices and ICO fraud back in the headlines

A leading investigator of ICO fraud will depart as head of the SEC’s cyber enforcement division in August.

Robert A. Cohen departs his role at the Division of Enforcement’s Cyber Unit after 15 years of service.

Cohen was the first Chief of the Cyber Unit, founded in 2017.

During his time, the agency is best known for cases surrounding initial coin offering or ICO fraud. He also charged celebrities like DJ Khaled and Boxing Champion Floyd Mayweather, who promoted ICOs without disclosing compensation. He is also known for investigating hackers who breached the SEC’s EDGAR system and investors who sold unregistered digital securities.

A Major SEC Departure

Cohen previously worked as the Co-Chief of the SEC’s Market Abuse Unit.

During that time, he investigated cases around insider trading and market manipulation. Earlier in his career, Cohen worked on cases involving accounting violations.He also was central to a $118 million settlement around an ultra-short bond fund that declined during the financial crisis.

But Cohen made his mark with the rise of cryptocurrencies. Under his guidance, the Cyber Unit division focused on ICO fraud. He expanded the agency while allowing the broader industry to evolve and develop. The division now handles all crypto-related investigations for the broader agency.

“I’m grateful to Rob for his thoughtfulness, expertise, and leadership in taking on the creation of the Cyber Unit,” said SEC 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.”

“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.”

Cohen joined the SEC’s Enforcement Division from private practice in 2004. He received his J.D. from New York University School of Law. He earned his undergraduate degree from Cornell University.

The SEC has not announced a replacement for Cohen.

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