Kobi Alexander

tzedakah-box.GIFKobi Alexander’s extradition hearing in Namibia is happening today (might’ve already happened, not sure with the time difference). The biggest charge in his 35-count federal indictment is money laundering. But he may not be going downtown for his little fraud dealings. Why? Since he fled to his African hideaway last October, Alexander’s been building affordable housing units, setting up scholarships for gifted students, and generally doing good humanitarian-type stuff*. The kind of stuff that might perhaps save one from those damn U.S. white-collar criminal courts. Someone had to say it.
And apparently we’re not the only cynical assholes to think this might be the case. CNBC’s Senior African Extradition Hearing Correspondent and Windhoek Bureau Chief, Scott Cohn, wondered aloud yesterday, “Of all the places in the world that need help with education, why Namibia? Could it be because in this young country—just 17 years old—money laundering, per se, is not a crime?”
According to Alexander’s attorney, absolutely not. Kobi’s not trying to buy off Namibia. As “an Israeli citizen,” Richard Metcalfe said yesterday, “Alexander is continuing the esteemed Jewish tradition of t’zedakah– good works, charity, empowering those less fortunate.”
Update: Hearing postponed to June 25.
Reporter’s Diary: ‘Kobi’ Alexander’s Namibia [CNBC]
*with what not a few people believe is shareholder money.

Kobi Alexander’s Namibia

kobialexander1.jpgIn honor of former Comverse CEO Kobi Alexander’s extradition hearing taking place today in Namibia, CNBC sent its Senior African Extradition Hearing Correspondent and Windhoek Bureau Chief, Scott Cohn, who’s apparently never left the network’s Englewood Cliffs Headquarters overseas to do a little recon. His findings are not for the faint of heart.
“You instantly notice something is different when you look into the night sky here in Africa, but you can’t quite put your finger on it,” Cohn writes. What in God’s name could it be? Astoundingly, it’s that “you are on the opposite side of the world now…same sky, different hemisphere.” This, “opposite side of the world” business, Cohn posits, “explain[s] Namibia,” where Alexander has come to “start a new life—and maybe avoid prosecution on options fraud charges in New York.” Because when you’re trying to get off on fraud that occurred in New York, it’s generally a good idea to flee to somewhere outside the tri-state area (/the jurisdiction).
There are other things that are different about Namibia compared to the United States:

Everything here is just a little bit different from the U.S., from a gloriously desolate landscape—unlike any desert on earth, they say–to the way people do business here. No one “cuts to the chase” in Namibia, the way we insist on doing back home. A meeting begins slowly. A little greeting. Casual chit-chat. Coffee, anyone? Tea?

Fine, then. Let us cut to the chase: Scott Cohn is a racist.
Reporter’s Diary: ‘Kobi’ Alexander’s Namibia [CNBC]

He’s Probably Also Angling For Piece of Angelina

angelina_jolie_13.jpgFormer Comverse exec and current Kobi Alexander is in the process of establishing a scholarship fund in Namibia, worth $150 million in Namibian currency. The fund’s goal is it support top students to “further their studies in science and technology,” and translates to about $21,300 U.S. For those of you who like to read into things—perhaps with due cause—Alexander’s extradition hearing begins tomorrow. (Kobi moved his family to Namibia last year after his role in an alleged stock-option scheme was brought to light.)
We’re not quite sure how to feel about this. One the one hand, he’s supporting education and people in need. And that’s nice; humanity and all that. But on the other hand, this man is an alleged criminal; we don’t want his blood money (and we speak for the children of Namibia, too). That’s right—even we have standards. (We will continue, however, to support the Save A Whale with AIDS Foundation.)

kobialexander1.jpgWe’ve been doing a lot of writing about backdating lately but what about the poster-child for criminal backdating fugitives, Kobi Alexander? The founder of Comverse vanished after US authorities sought to arrest him on charges related to backdating, securities fraud and bribery. He later turned up in Namibia, where he was arrested by authorities and awaits an extradition hearing in April.
Over the weekend, Bloomberg reported that Alexander has started a low-income home construction business in Namibia.

His Namibian company, Kobi Alexander Enterprises, has already developed two projects in the coastal city of Walvis Bay involving the construction of 200 houses for low-income residents, the company said in an advertisement yesterday in The Namibian, a local newspaper.
“Mr. Kobi Alexander, its founder, brings with him a wealth of business acumen,” the advertisement said. “He is the founder of Comverse Technology, the world’s leading supplier of enhanced services for telecommunications companies.”

We can only imagine how that “business acumen” line strikes the US prosecutors who have done their best to paint Alexander as the worst sort of corporate criminal.

U.S. Fugitive Starts Over in Namibia
[Bloomberg in NYT]

Namibia Fugitive Arrested

kobialexander1.jpgNope. Not that one. The other guy wanted by the Feds who was found in Namibia.

Wesley Snipes, the Hollywood action star, was taken into custody this morning and will appear before a federal judge to answer charges of tax fraud and conspiracy later today.
Wearing his signature black sunglasses, a black 2-piece suit and a blue shirt, Snipes walked through the back entrance of the courthouse at 9:30 a.m., escorted by federal agents and a prosecutor.
Snipes had an initial appearance and arraignment in front of Magistrate Gary Jones at 10:30 a.m. today. Jones released Snipes on $1 million bond and allowed him to go back to Namibia to complete filming of Gallow Walker, a motion picture Snipes is starring in. The judge orderd that Snipes come back to the states for another appearance on Jan. 10.
During the court appearance, Snipes pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.

Wesley Snipes arrested, released on bond [Orlando Sentinel]

  • 07 Nov 2006 at 1:35 PM
  • Companies

With Friends Like This, Who Needs Enemies?

In an article generally praising Checkpoint Technologies CEO Gil Shwed, Shlom Greenberg writes:

Shwed is unquestionably one of Israel’s best entrepreneurs and managers. He took a technology idea, applied it, and then became the leader in the emerging sector on Main Street. Few people can do this, and he did it in a way that can hardly be compared. He is definitely a member of the same cadre as Comverse Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: CMVT) founder Kobi Alexander, the Zisapel brothers, and Retalix Ltd. (Nasdaq: RTLX; TASE: RTLX) president and CEO Barry Shaked, men who turned ideas into successful products on Main Street.

Uhm, Shlo, you mean this Kobi Alexander? One of the most famous financial fugitives in the world? That’s probably a comparison Israeli tech-chief executives can do without.
And, in related news, our little brother AboveTheLaw tells us that Wesley Snipes is apparently still a fugitive in Namibia.

Wake up call for Check Point
[Globes Online]

Another Backdating Guilty Plea From A Comverse Executive

kobialexander1.jpgThe noose just got a little tighter around the neck of ex-Comverse CEO Kobi Alexander. The company’s former general counsel, William F. Sorin, is expected to plead guilty to charges stemming from controversially “backdated” stock options grants made by Comverse.
Under a practice now known as backdating, dozens of companies have revealed that they pegged the options to dates earlier than the date they were actually granted, making the grants potentially more valuable to recipients. Because the date fudging wasn’t disclosed to investors or tax-authorities, backdating has led to investigations and indictments by the SEC and federal prosecutors.
Sorin is the second Comverse executive to plead guilty to backdating charges. It is expected that they are cooperating with prosecutors. Federal officials currently seek the extradition of Alexander from Namibia, where the fugitive executive has been since sometime this summer. Although many companies have revealed that backdating occurred in years past, federal prosecutors seem to have focused on Comverse because high-level executives seem to have gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal the practice from shareholders and board members. ANd it probably doesn’t hurt that, everyone knows, Kobi Alexander is no where near as popular as the CEO of another famous backdating Company, Steve Jobs. That guy invented the Ipod so you totally can’t indict him.

Comverse Executive to Plead Guilty
[Reuters in the New York Times]

  • 20 Oct 2006 at 3:20 PM
  • IRS

NFW! Wesley Snipes Is In Kobi Alexander Land!

wesleysnipes.jpgDealBreaker might need to set up a Namibian branch office if things keep up like this.
Today Reuters reported that Wesley Snipes—indicted earlier this week for tax fraud—is in Namibia. You remember that place right? It’s the semi-desert African country where Kobi Alexander was discovered, arrested and eventually bailed out of jail to await his extradition treaty.
Can this really be happening? Why Namibia (a country we only really had heard of as the place where Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt went to hatch their offspring)? At first blush, Namibia seems like a good place to flee. It doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the US, it’s got some fancy resorts and sports lots of European and Israeli ex-pats to pal around with.
Unfortunately for the fugitive types, its also got a government eager to keep the US happy. After Kobi Alexander was discovered there, the country quickly passed a law permitting extradition of alleged criminals wanted in the US.
So why did Snipes stick around when it became apparent that Namibia probably wouldn’t shield him from the long arm of US law enforcement? Well, it seems that he’s not there hiding out at all. He’s filming a movie!

“It is confirmed. He is definitely here,” Edwin Kanguatjivi, chief executive officer of the Namibia Film Commission, said by telephone. “He has been in Namibia since the end of August.”
Snipes, the star of the “Blade” movie series, is the lead actor in a new movie entitled “Gallowwalker” filming in the Namibian desert near the town of Swakopmund — the same coastal resort where Hollywood superstars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had their first child in May.

We’re not sure this is entirely plausible. So Snipes just happened to be hanging out in a country with no extradition treaty when his indictment came down? A little convenient, no?
“It will be interesting to see whether he waives extradition proceedings or fights it. That may hint at whether he was there as a fugitive or there for other reasons,” we were told by DealBreaker’s favorite extradition law expert, Douglas McNabb of McNabb Associates.
Indicted U.S. actor Snipes in Namibia: officials
[Reuters via the Ka-Ching! blog]