‘Kobi’ rots in US jail
Israeli-American technology mogul, Jacob “Kobi” Alexander , who spent a decade evading justice by living in the lap of luxury in Namibia, after being accused of participating in a stock options scandal that allegedly netted him US$138 million, is now rotting in a US jail, after his voluntary return to that country.
A Brooklyn federal court has denied Alexander bail, saying that he is a real flight risk.
The court ruled that he be put in prison without delay.
After making a deal with prosecutors, Alexander pled guilty to one count of securities fraud. Besides a decade in prison, he could be fined up to US$1 million. He is scheduled to be sentenced on 16 December.
The 64-year-old former chief executive of New York-based Comverse Technology was living a high-class life in a fancy neighbourhood in Namibia.
Speaking with the New York Post, his lawyer, Ben Brafman, said he was hoping Alexander could get off without any prison sentence.
“Judge can do zero to max of 10 years,” clarified Brafman, the high-profile attorney who’s represented such celebrities as Michael Jackson. “[We’ll] be asking for [the] lowest possible sentence.”
At the time of his indictment in 2006, the fallen tech executive was looking at 25 years in prison. However, he escaped justice this long because the US did not have an extradition treaty with Namibia.
While running Comverse, a voicemail-software maker, Alexander oversaw a 15-year scheme to backdate stock options that would give the company a substantial amount of extra – and illicit – funds, the government alleged in its 35-count indictment.
Additionally, the indictment charged Alexander with operating a slush fund. Moreover, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges of a similar nature against Alexander.
When the Justice Department finally got around to issuing an arrest warrant, Alexander was hiding out somewhere in Israel - and even his former lawyer did not know just where he could be found, according to a Wall Street Journal article at the time.
In 2010, Alexander worked out a deal to pay US$54 million to settle the SEC charges.
Alongside all this, Comverse’s general counsel, William Sorin, pleaded guilty and received a prison sentence of one year and a day.
David Kreinberg, the company’s chief financial officer, also pleaded guilty, but he cooperated with federal investigators in their probe. As a result, he was sentenced to time served after a short period in custody.
Comverse, which has since gone out of business, had to deal with its own difficulties while Alexander was living in Namibia. In 2010, the company lost a class-action lawsuit, and was ordered by the court to pay US$225 million for the backdating scandal.
While in Namibia, Alexander earned the respect and friendship of the local authorities by pledging millions of dollars in assistance to local schoolchildren.
“Notwithstanding his departure from Namibia, Mr. Alexander and his family will continue their charitable work in Namibia,” Brafman stated.
“Specifically, since 2007, the Alexander family has financed and operated soup kitchens in Namibia that have served more than 750,000 nutritious meals to children in Katutura and Kuisebmond,” Brafman elaborated. “These soup kitchens will continue to operate, employing seven people and feeding 700 children each day.”
Escape to Africa
With his own indictment looming in 2006, Alexander moved to Namibia.
CNBC tracked him there in 2007, and found him living in a gated community on the grounds of the Windhoek Country Club. His luxury townhouse was adjacent to a private airstrip, even though a Namibian judge had restricted his travel and Alexander theoretically faced certain arrest if he left the country.
Attorneys in the US accused Alexander of using Comverse shareholder money to buy off the Namibian government, which his Namibian attorney flatly denied.
“He is entitled to be here, he is entitled to participate in the economy, and I think anybody who has that sort of idea, it is a machination of their own means and making,” Richard Metcalfe told CNBC in 2007.
Nonetheless, extradition proceedings in Namibian courts dragged on for years, with most hearings postponed or cancelled. Alexander remained in Namibia long after his fellow former executives got out of prison, reportedly flying in 200 guests for his son’s bar mitzvah in 2008. - jewishvoiceny.com