Ex-SEC Enforcer Charged With Stealing Data to Land PE Job

GPB Capital | Bloomberg | Patricia Hurtado | October 234, 2019

  • U.S. says theft got him a position as chief compliance officer
  • He accepted $400,000-a-year job four days after he left SEC


When Michael Cohn left his job with the enforcement arm of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2018, he took more than his ambitions to work on Wall Street, prosecutors say.

Before leaving, Cohn repeatedly hacked into the regulator’s computers and stole “highly sensitive” information about an ongoing regulatory probe that he used to land a $400,000-a-year job as chief compliance officer at the private equity firm that was being investigated, U.S. prosecutors said Wednesday in announcing charges against Cohn.

Cohn, 59, disclosed the inside information while interviewing at GPB Capital Holdings LLC and accepted an offer for the new job four days after his last day with the government in October 2018, a prosecutor told a judge in Central Islip, New York, in a letter. Cohn had worked for the SEC’s asset management unit since 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He was charged with obstruction, obtaining information from a government computer and unauthorized disclosure of confidential information in a revised indictment made public on Wednesday.

“The defendant abused the trust placed in him as an SEC employee,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said. “No one gets a pass for breaching the security of government computer networks and misusing sensitive and confidential information for their own benefit.”

Cohn was released Wednesday on a $250,000 bond but was ordered to surrender his passport and to limit his travel to Connecticut and New York. Assistant U.S. Attorney Artie McConnell said the restrictions were necessary “in order to guard against additional obstructive conduct while the GPB investigation remains active.”

Judy Burns, an SEC spokeswoman, declined to comment.

GPB, based in Manhattan and Garden City, has $1.5 billion of assets under management. The company said it was stunned to learn of the charges against Cohn and that it immediately replaced him as chief compliance officer with Aileen Doherty, who it described in a statement as “a veteran chief compliance officer with more than 25 years of experience working with investment advisers and funds.”

Information on Cohn’s lawyer wasn’t immediately available.

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