Sharon Cohen Levin is a partner in the Firm’s Litigation Group and a member of its Criminal Defense and Investigations Group. She is a leading expert in anti-money laundering (AML), Bank Secrecy Act, economic sanctions and asset forfeiture matters. She represents a diverse group of clients, including financial institutions, multinational companies, and individuals in connection with criminal, regulatory, and civil enforcement actions. Her practice focuses on white collar and regulatory enforcement defense, internal investigations, and compliance counseling.
Sharon also represents collectors, dealers, non-profit organizations, universities, financial institutions, galleries and auction houses on a variety of matters related to the art market, including issues of ownership, theft, fraud, authenticity and breach of contract, as well as in criminal investigations and asset forfeiture proceedings. She has represented individuals, families, and governments with respect to the recovery of stolen art and cultural property, and has represented collectors in responding to claims by cultural ministries and foreign governments.
Sharon is a former federal prosecutor and led the Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for two decades. Under her leadership, the SDNY was responsible for nearly 60% of all forfeitures in the United States, with most of the proceeds remitted to victims of crimes. Her track record of success inspired Forbes to call her “The Babe Ruth of Forfeiture.”
She led multiple significant prosecutions under the AML, economic sanctions and asset forfeiture laws, working hand in hand with federal and state banking regulators, the Office of Foreign Asset Control, and other investigative and regulatory authorities. Sharon was the lead prosecutor responsible for securing a settlement in the watershed “Portrait of Wally” forfeiture case, which centered on an oil painting stolen by Nazis from a Jewish woman in 1938—a story that was later made into a documentary.
As an internationally renowned leader in her field, Sharon has provided training to U.S. and foreign governments and private and public companies and served on numerous occasions as a keynote speaker, panelist or lecturer at events related to money laundering, asset forfeiture, AML compliance, terrorist financing, and other related topics.
Chambers USA notes that clients describe Ms. Levin “an extraordinary lawyer and brilliant strategist, always knows what to say and can get anyone on side.” In particular, noting that she “certainly knows asset forfeiture and AML” and that “she has her pulse on the industry and is always looking forward at emerging risks.”
In private practice, Ms. Levin has represented high-profile clients on their most complex and sensitive matters. These representations include:
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