Cyber Unit Chief Robert Cohen Parts Ways with SEC Next Month

The Cyber Unit was created two years ago to restore investor confidence in the commission following a major data hack.

Top US regulator Robert Cohen is parting ways with the first-ever chief of its cyber unit, a special team of attorneys set up in 2017 to crack down on cyber-related misconduct. Robert Cohen is leaving his position as the chief of the Division of Enforcement’s cyber unit in August after 15 years at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Cohen originally joined the SEC Enforcement Division back in 2004. Since 2015, he and Joseph Sansone had been co-chiefs of the Market Abuse Unit until he was promoted to tackle cyber-related scams in his current role.

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The Cyber Unit, which is part of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, was created two years ago to restore investor confidence in the commission following a major data hack. At the time, the breach was serious enough for the regulator to notify members of Congress about the hack before it was announced publicly.

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ICO phenomenon kept the SEC busy

The division was initially created to target market manipulation schemes and cyber-related threats to trading platforms, but then its role evolved to investigate violations involving cryptocurrencies and other digital assets.

In December 2017, the Cyber Unit filed its first enforcement action against the promoters of an ICO for a proposed currency called “PlexCoin.” Since then, the unit has been busy, bringing 20 standalone cases in 2018, including those against ICOs and digital assets, with more than 225 investigations ongoing.

Commenting on his departure, 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.”

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton added: “I’m 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.”

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