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Robert A. Cohen


Robert A. Cohen

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.

He represents public companies in SEC investigations concerning disclosures, accounting and internal controls. He is an authority on cryptocurrency enforcement, having led the SEC’s first wave of cases involving digital assets and initial coin offerings. With his experience as the first-ever Chief of the SEC’s Cyber Unit, Rob also is active in our Data Privacy & Cybersecurity practice.

When Rob was Co-Chief of the SEC’s Market Abuse Unit, he handled enforcement actions involving insider trading, market structure, manipulation, broker-dealers, ATSs and exchanges.

He is co-chair of the D.C. Bar’s Securities Enforcement Subcommittee.

Experience highlights

Government and Internal Investigations
  • A Fortune 100 company in an SEC enforcement investigation concerning internal controls
  • A large tech company in an SEC enforcement investigation
  • A post-SPAC financial company in an SEC investigation
  • A post-IPO company in an SEC investigation
  • A large broker-dealer in a matter concerning trade data
  • A data analytics company in a New York Attorney General investigation
  • A broker-dealer in SEC and FINRA investigations concerning trading practices
  • A large underwriter in an SEC investigation
  • A China-based retailer in connection with fraud investigations by the SEC and DOJ
  • A public company in an internal investigation regarding a subsidiary
  • An investment trust in response to an SEC enforcement inquiry
  • A large public company regarding an SEC investigation into accounting practices
  • 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 large financial institution in a FINRA investigation
Cryptocurrency & Digital Assets
  • Multiple developers of cryptocurrency platforms and digital asset product and service providers, including in several investigations concerning decentralized finance (DeFi)
Data Privacy & Cybersecurity
  • Multiple public companies in responding to the SEC sweep regarding the SolarWinds compromise
  • A Fortune 100 company in an internal investigation regarding a cyber incident
  • A private equity firm concerning cybersecurity advice
  • 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 cases involving hedge funds, a member of Congress, nonpublic government information, and a tipper who passed notes at Grand Central Station and then ate them
  • Cases including reserves for environmental liability at a Fortune 500 company and revenue recognition practices at a tech 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
  • Individuals who hacked into the SEC's EDGAR system
  • $118 million case involving collapse of short-term bond fund
View all experience


SEC & CFTC Enforcement Update



Chambers USA – Securities Regulation: Enforcement

National Law Journal – “Washington DC Trailblazer,” 2020

J.D., New York University School of Law
B.S., Policy Analysis, Cornell University
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
Qualifications and admissions
  • District of Columbia
  • State of Maryland
  • State of New York
  • U.S. District Court, E.D. New York
  • U.S. District Court, Maryland
  • U.S. District Court, S.D. New York
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