SEC’s Top Crypto Cop Joins Coinbase’s Law Firm

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The former head of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Cyber Unit is moving to private practice.

Robert A. Cohen will join the corporate law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP as partner. The firm is known for representing several crypto firms including Coinbase, as well as large legacy financial institutions, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Cohen tendered his resignation in July, after 15 years of government service with the SEC. His departure reportedly leaves the cyber unit without a leader.

As head of the Cyber Unit, Cohen oversaw the precedent-setting lawsuit against Kik Interactive for allegedly engaging in a fraudulent $100 million securities offering. In a recently published rebuttal of the lawsuit, Kik denies the agency’s core complaints.

The cyber unit was founded in 2017 as a way to manage the development of the blockchain ecosystem and protect investors. The agency’s mandate includes investigating financial violations involving digital assets, as well as policing cybersecurity issues. Cohen made a name for pursuing several actions against allegedly fraudulent initial coin offerings.

In an interview with WSJ, Cohen said the watchdog carefully weighed which actions to pursue.

“We brought some high-profile cases pretty quickly and we got the message out,” he said. “But the industry should have a chance to adapt to it. If the goal is to send the message, you should give people a chance to get the message and adjust.”

In his new role, Cohen will be barred from speaking with SEC officials for a year, per “revolving door” regulations.

Robert A. Cohen Former Chief of Cyber Unit Securities and Exchange Commission Division of Enforcement panel speaker Consensus 2018

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