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Sharon Cohen Levin


Sharon Cohen Levin

New York +1-212-558-4000+1-212-558-4000 +1-212-558-3588+1-212-558-3588
[email protected]
Sharon Cohen Levin is a partner in Sullivan & Cromwell’s Litigation Group and a member of the Firm’s Criminal Defense and Investigations Group. Her practice focuses on money laundering and asset forfeiture advice for a diverse group of corporate clients.

Ms. Levin began her career working for the Department of Justice’s civil division in Washington, D.C. She moved to the Southern District of New York’s forfeiture unit in 1991, and took over the unit in 1996. For nearly two decades, Ms. Levin led the Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. 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 also led multiple significant prosecutions, working hand in hand with federal banking regulators, the Office of Foreign Asset Control, and other regulatory authorities. Ms. Levin was the lead prosecutor responsible for securing a settlement in the historic “Portrait of Wally” forfeiture case, which centered on an oil painting stolen by Nazis from a Jewish woman in 1939—a story that was later made into a documentary. As a former colleague told the New York Times of Ms. Levin, “It’s hard to think of another person who has had such an important impact over so many years in so many S.D.N.Y. cases.” Ms. Levin is an internationally renowned leader in her field. She has served on multiple occasions as a keynote speaker, panelist or lecturer at events related to money laundering and asset forfeiture, as well as events on AML compliance, terrorist financing, and other related topics.

Awards & Recognitions
  • Recognized as a Local Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation (2018, 2020)
  • Recognized as a Financing, Banking & Capital Markets Trailblazer by The National Law Journal (2019)
  • Recognized by Who’s Who Legal: Business Crime Defence (2020)
  • Selected as a Recognized Practitioner in Financial Services Regulation: Banking (Enforcement & Investigations) by Chambers USA (2019-2020)
  • Selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Investigations Worldwide by Global Investigations Review (2018)
  • Recipient of the Sanctuary for Families Above and Beyond Pro Bono Award (2017)
  • Recommended by The Legal 500 United States for financial services regulation and international trade (2017)
  • Selected by her peers for inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America (2017-2018)
  • Named to New York Law Journal’s inaugural Top Women in Law list (2016)
  • Recipient of the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service (2015)
  • Named to The National Law Journal’s inaugural list of “Outstanding Women Lawyers” (2015)
  • Named a Grand Officer of the Royal Order of Sahametrei by the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia (2014)
  • Recipient of the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service (2014)
  • Department of Justice Director’s Award for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team (2014)
  • Recipient of the Anti-Defamation League SHIELD Award (2014)
  • Recipient of the OCDETF National Award, Special OCDETF Investigation Award, Outstanding Investigation for Exceptional Efforts in Depriving Funding to Foreign Terrorist Organizations (2014)
  • Recipient of the FLEOA Group Achievement Award – Lebanese Canadian Bank Money Laundering Action (2013)
  • Recipient of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art – Policing and Recovery Award (2013)
  • Recipient of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement – International Achievement Award (2012)
  • Recipient of the Henry L. Stimson Medal – Presented to Outstanding Criminal Prosecutor in the Southern District of New York (2011)
  • Recipient of the Women in Federal Law Enforcement Award – Outstanding Federal Law Enforcement Employee (2011)
  • Recipient of the DOJ National Asset Forfeiture Award for Sustained Exceptional Service, Lifetime Achievement Award (2009)
  • Four Time Recipient of the Attorney General’s John Marshall Award for Asset Forfeiture (2001, 2006, 2007, 2010)