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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 served as the first-ever Chief of the SEC’s Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit and led the SEC’s first wave of cases involving digital assets. Rob also is active in our Data Privacy & Cybersecurity practice.

Rob is “is a terrific litigator and he really digs in to get to the meat of things,” says a source quoted by Chambers FinTech.

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 investigation concerning internal controls
  • A large tech company in an SEC investigation
  • A large transportation company in an SEC investigation
  • Several post-SPAC companies, a post-IPO company and a large underwriter in SEC investigations
  • An asset manager in an SEC investigation concerning trading
  • Several financial institutions regarding advice concerning off-channel communications
  • A large broker-dealer in a regulatory matter concerning trade data
  • A data analytics company in a NY Attorney General investigation
  • A broker-dealer in SEC and FINRA investigations concerning trading practices and best execution
  • A China-based retailer in connection with fraud investigations by the SEC and DOJ
  • Multiple public companies in internal investigations, including regarding a subsidiary; material, nonpublic information; and compliance with European financial regulations
  • An investment trust in response to an SEC inquiry
  • A large public company regarding an SEC investigation into accounting practices
  • A large financial institution in a FINRA investigation
Cryptocurrency & Digital Assets
  • Multiple developers of cryptocurrency platforms in SEC investigations, including investigations concerning decentralized finance (DeFi)
  • A cryptocurrency financial services firm and several individuals in multiple investigations
  • A cryptocurrency asset manager in an SEC investigation
  • An NFT creator in an SEC investigation
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
  • Multiple public companies in responding to cybersecurity incidents
  • A private equity firm concerning cybersecurity advice
  • A financial services provider regarding a privacy 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, for example, hedge funds, a member of Congress, and passing of notes at Grand Central Station
  • Public company accounting and disclosure cases
  • Trading investigations related to order handling, national stock exchanges and alternative trading systems
  • Cybersecurity controls
  • Hacking of the SEC’s EDGAR system
  • Collapse of short-term bond fund
View more experience




Chambers USA – Securities Regulation: Enforcement

Chambers FinTech – Crypto-Asset Disputes, USA

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 (now named Crypto Assets and 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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