The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Stephen L. Cohen, Associate Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, is planning to leave the agency later this month.
Since he was appointed Associate Director in 2011, Mr. Cohen has overseen a staff of nearly 60 attorneys and other professionals responsible for investigating potential violations of the federal securities laws by a wide range of market participants. Mr. Cohen has worked closely with and provided assistance to numerous international regulators and domestic law enforcement partners. In addition, Mr. Cohen has played a leading role in SEC programs, including the launch of the Division’s Enforcement Advisory Committee and the implementation of a new hiring process now widely adopted across the agency.
“Throughout his career at the SEC, Steve has made substantial and long-lasting contributions to the Commission’s mission,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division. “He has supervised significant cases involving a wide variety of misconduct and has been closely involved in the implementation of various enhancements to the enforcement program. His keen intellect and enthusiasm will be missed.”
Mr. Cohen said, “Every day for nearly 12 years I have been awed and inspired by the intelligence, skill and commitment of my colleagues throughout the agency. The talented professionals at the Commission routinely overcome daunting challenges to protect investors, and it has been an absolute privilege to work alongside and learn from such exceptional public servants.”
Under Mr. Cohen’s leadership, the SEC has brought enforcement actions addressing a wide variety of misconduct, including:
- Fraud charges against Computer Sciences Corporation and former executives for manipulating financial results and concealing significant problems about the company’s largest and most high-profile contract, resulting in a $190 million penalty against CSC and approximately $5 million in monetary sanctions against the executives.
- Fraud charges and an emergency asset freeze against the operator of a $600 million online Pyramid and Ponzi scheme and his company for illegally raising money from more than one million Internet customers nationwide and overseas through the website ZeekRewards.com.
- Charges against two exchanges formerly owned by Direct Edge Holdings and since acquired by BATS Global Markets for failing to accurately describe the order types being used on the exchanges.
- Fraud charges against three brokerage subsidiaries and two former employees of global trading services provider ConvergEx Group LLC and the former CEOs of two of the brokerage subsidiaries – ConvergEx Global Markets and G-Trade Services LLC, in a scheme causing many institutional clients to pay substantially higher amounts than disclosed for the execution of trading orders.
- Charges against current and former brokerage subsidiaries of E*TRADE Financial Corporation that failed in their gatekeeper roles and improperly engaged in unregistered sales of microcap stocks on behalf of their customers.
- The SEC’s first charges in an EB-5 visa offering fraud against Anshoo R. Sethi and two companies Sethi created to sell more than $147 million in securities to purportedly finance the construction of a hotel and conference center near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.
Before his appointment to Associate Director, from 2009 to 2011, Mr. Cohen served as a senior advisor to former SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro and advised her on legal, policy and administrative matters focusing mostly on enforcement and compliance issues, legislative matters, Congressional hearings, and coordination with other government agencies. Mr. Cohen also led the agency’s efforts related to Dodd-Frank’s whistleblower provisions and the subsequent rulemaking and oversaw the creation of the SEC’s Tips, Complaints and Referrals system.
Mr. Cohen joined the SEC in 2004 as an Assistant Chief Litigation Counsel in the Enforcement Division from the Washington, D.C., office of Boies, Schiller & Flexner after serving as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice as part of the Attorney General’s Honors Program. Mr. Cohen also clerked for the Honorable Ursula Ungaro in the U.S. District Court in Miami. Mr. Cohen received the SEC Chair’s Award for Excellence in 2013 for his role in the agency’s rulemaking to develop a Consolidated Audit Trail, and the SEC’s Law and Policy Award in 2011 for his involvement with the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act.