This month, the Chief of the Cyber Units division, Robert A. Cohen, announced that he will leave his position with the SEC in August. The news came via a press release in which the SEC praised Cohen for his years of service. In his time with the SEC, Cohen spearheaded investigations into multiple blockchain-based firms.
KiK’n it SEC Style
These high-profile cases include a lawsuit against the messaging app Kik. The lawsuit claims that KiK illegally sold $1 trillion Kin Token to over 10,000 investors worldwide during a 2017 ICO. The SEC noted that the platform failed to register with the SEC prior to the crowdfunding event. Also, the company didn’t provide investors with the proper disclosures required by firms accepting funds from US investors.
ICO Promoters are not off the Hook
Cohen wasn’t afraid to go after celebrities as well. In one instance, Cohen decided that the celebrity promoters, DJ Khaled and Boxing Champion Floyd Mayweather, bared as much guilt as the company itself. In this case, it’s alleged that Centra Tech hosted an illegal ICO without the proper SEC licensing. Additionally, both of the celebrity promoters received a $100,000 payment that wasn’t disclosed to the SEC. Notably, this case was dismissed.
A Pioneer in Cyber Law Enforcement
Cohen pioneered crypto law enforcement. During his time he is accredited with initiating protocols which led to a direct crackdown on fraudulent ICOs, token issuers, unregistered securities exchanges, and hackers, just to name a few.
The Emergence of Crypto
Importantly, Cohen was among the first generation of SEC officials tasked with dealing with the emerging crypto market. His guidance helped the SEC maintain a critical position in which the firm allowed the market to develop, but still held those committing crimes accountable.
Colleagues Agree – Cohen was a Leader
Speaking on Cohen’s decision, the SEC Chairman, Jay Clayton thanked him for his tenacity and determination. Particularly, he pointed out how Cohen’s leadership abilities made the creation of the Cyber Unit possible. Today, the Cyber Unit division handles all crypto-related crimes.
Clayton wasn’t the only one to find time to praise Cohen publicly. Stephanie Avakian, Co-Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement explained how Cohen’s mentorship helped the SEC develop its Cyber Unit into an effective tool in the fight against cybercriminals.
Robert A. Cohen
Cohen joined the SEC in 2004. His decision to leave the agency comes after 15 years of service. During this time he held multiple high-rank positions. For example, in 2008, Cohen became Branch Chief before becoming Assistant Director in 2010. Then, He was the Co-Chief of the Market Abuse Unit before becoming Chief of the Cyber Unit.
Who’s After Cohen?
The SEC has been silent on who Cohen’s replacement will be. As the SEC faces new challenges, such as the emergence of cryptocurrencies globally, it’s important that the agency find an individual with a forward-looking mindset. For now, the cryptocommunity awaits their next move.