SEC’s first-ever cyber unit chief Robert Cohen stepping down

Robert Cohen, the first-ever cyber unit chief at the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) is stepping down after serving with the regulator for 15 years. In a press release revealing the news, the SEC thanked Cohen for his selfless service, with his work in the crypto sector being especially praised.

Cohen became the first chief of the cyber unit when it was created in 2017. The unit focuses on violations that involve cryptos, cybersecurity procedures at public companies and cyber-related trading violations such as hacking to obtain information that’s not available to the general public.

Jay Clayton, the SEC chairman recognized Cohen’s contribution to the regulator in the wake of increasingly digital threats. He stated, “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.”

Other executives at the SEC were also full of praise for Cohen. Steven Peikin, the director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division stated, “The Cyber Unit has been a great success under Rob’s strategic leadership. 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 has been behind some of the most famous SEC actions against crypto entities. In November 2018, the SEC charged two celebrities with unlawful touting of coin offerings. The two, professional boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and music producer DJ Khaled, failed to disclose payments they received to promote ICOs. Mayweather paid over $750,000 in penalties while Khaled paid over $150,000.

Cohen also went after Zachary Coburn, the founder of crypto marketplace EtherDelta for operating an unregistered national securities exchange. Coburn paid over $385,000 to the SEC.

Apart from crypto companies, Cohen was after the SEC’s action against Voya Financial Advisers, a Des Moines-based broker-dealer and investment adviser for its insufficient cybersecurity procedures. The company settled with the regulator, agreeing to be censured and paying $1 million in penalties.

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