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Lawyers

Robert A. Cohen

Lawyers
Partner
White Collar Defense & Investigations
Washington DC
Represents companies, boards and individuals in government investigations. Conducts internal investigations. Held senior roles in the SEC Enforcement Division.

Rob brings 15 years of senior-level experience in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement to his work representing companies, boards and individuals in government investigations, as well as conducting internal investigations.

At the SEC, Rob handled enforcement actions involving insider trading, public company accounting and disclosure violations, market structure and manipulation, data privacy and cybersecurity, cryptocurrency, broker-dealers and investment advisers. As Co-Chief of the Market Abuse Unit, he oversaw cutting-edge, highly complex investigations.

Rob is active in Davis Polk’s Data Privacy & Cybersecurity practice, after serving as the first-ever Chief of the SEC’s Cyber Unit. He also led the SEC’s first wave of enforcement cases involving digital assets and initial coin offerings, including the first case involving a digital asset exchange.

Rob is co-chair of the D.C. Bar’s Securities Enforcement Subcommittee and is a member of Law360’s 2021 Securities Editorial Advisory Board.

Experience highlights

Government and Internal Investigations
  • A Fortune 100 company in responding to a SEC Enforcement investigation concerning internal controls
  • A China-based retail company in connection with fraud investigations by DOJ and SEC
  • A public company in an internal investigation regarding a subsidiary
  • An investment trust in response to a SEC enforcement inquiry
  • A large public company regarding a SEC investigation into accounting practices
  • A large public company in a matter regarding SEC reporting
  • A public company in an internal investigation concerning material, nonpublic information
  • A public company in an internal investigation regarding compliance with European financial regulations
  • A broker-dealer in a FINRA investigation
  • A broker-dealer in an SEC investigation
  • A large financial institution in a FINRA investigation
Data Privacy & Cybersecurity
  • A private equity firm concerning cybersecurity advice
  • An internal investigation for a Fortune 100 company regarding a cyber incident
  • A financial services provider regarding a privacy incident
  • A public company in responding to a cyber incident
  • Multiple investment advisers regarding data use policies

Prior to joining Davis Polk, cases that Rob supervised at the SEC included:

  • Insider trading, including separate cases involving hedge funds, a member of Congress, tips passed at Grand Central Station, and nonpublic government information
  • Several cases involving public company accounting, controls, and disclosures, including reserves for environmental liability at a Fortune 500 company and revenue recognition practices at a technology company
  • Trading investigations related to order handling and routing, national stock exchanges, and alternative trading systems
  • Cybersecurity procedures at a broker-dealer and investment adviser
  • A hacker and multiple traders who hacked into the SEC's EDGAR system
  • Cryptocurrency matters involving initial coin offerings and digital tokens
  • $118 million case involving collapse of short-term bond fund
View all experience

Insights

Credentials

Recognition
Chambers USA – Securities Regulation: Enforcement
National Law Journal – “Washington DC Trailblazer,” 2020
Education
J.D., New York University School of Law
B.S., Policy Analysis, Cornell University
Clerkships
Law Clerk, Hon. Alexander Williams Jr., U.S. District Court, Maryland, 1997-1998
Professional history
  • Partner, Davis Polk, 2019-present
  • Division of Enforcement, Securities and Exchange Commission, 2004-2019
    • Chief, Cyber Unit, 2017-2019
    • Co-Chief, Market Abuse Unit, 2015-2017
    • Co-Deputy Chief, Market Abuse Unit, 2013-2015
    • Assistant Director, 2010-2013
  • Associate, Hogan & Hartson, 2001-2004
  • Associate, Proskauer Rose, 1998-2001
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