Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Meanwhile, Back in Namibia...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Over the last few days, the papers have brimmed with news about developments in the Apple options backdating investigation (more about which below). But in the meantime, Kobi Alexander, the fugitive former head of Comverse Technology, has been holed up in Namibia. Alexander is free on bail while fighting extradition to the U.S. where he faces a 35-count indictment charging him with conspiracy, securities fraud, lying to the SEC, money laundering and bribery, in connection with the Comverse Technology options backdating investigation. (A good summary and analysis of the charges against Alexander, including a link to Alexander’s September 20, 2006 indictment, can be found on the White Collar Crime Prof blog, here.)

According to a April 24, 2007 Newsday article entitled “Will Comverse Fugitive’s Cash Sway Extradition?” (here), Alexander has promised to spend 100 Million Namibian Dollars ($16 million) on Namibian business projects, through his Kobi Alexander Enterprises vehicle. (Alexander has successfully prevented efforts to freeze bank accounts containing funds he transferred to Namibia from New York and Israel.) He has repeated his commitment to invest in Namibia in full-page newspaper advertisements and on billboards. He has already spent $500,000 building low-income familty housing, and in the days leading up to his scheduled April 25, 2007 extradition hearing, he announced that he would provide $21,000 for scholarships (refer here) and even spend 22,400 Namibian dollars building latrines at schools and kindergartens (refer here). The scholarship fund offer proved short-lived, as Alexander postponed the press conference announcing the fund's launch (refer here).

The April 23, 2007 Namibian, in an article entitled “Wanted in the U.S., Setting Up Scholarship Funds in Namibia” (here), reported that Alexander “has moved swiftly to financially endear himself to Namibians,” and he has “not lacked for takers; neither in the private sector, nor, it appears in political circles.” According to the Namibian, in the press release describing Alexander’s scholarship donations (later postponed), the Namibian Ministry of Education described Alexander as “passionate about Namibia and its people.” The press release apparently identified Alexander as the founder of Comverse but made no mention of the peculiar reason for Alexander’s presence in Namibia.

But while Alexander’s extradition hearing had been scheduled to take place today (April 25), the hearing was postponed until June 8, 2007 (refer here) at prosecutors' request. Prosecutors did not provide a reason for their delay request. One can speculate that prosecutors wanted to avoid the distracting impact of Alexander’s attempts to ingratiate himself financially. On the other hand, government officials may have wanted the delay as the best means to keep Alexander's Namibian gravy train running. Because this is the third postponement, I am going with the latter theory.

The Newsday article quotes Alexander’s attorney in the U.S., Robert Morvillo, as saying “I don’t think he’s trying to buy justice, he’s trying to present another side of himself.” Yes, on one side, he’s a fugitive from justice, on the other side, he’s rich. We’ll compromise and call him a rich fugitive from justice.

Apple Developments: The SEC’s complaint (here) against former Apple CFO Fred Anderson and former Apple General Counsel Nancy Heinen provides a more detailed glimpse of the events surrounding options backdating at Apple. But, as reported in today’s Wall Street Journal (here, subscription required), statements by Anderson’s attorney may present new questions potentially implicating Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs.

For a good overview of the statements and the potential implications for Jobs, refer to the Ideoblog (here) and the Conglomerate blog (here). As detailed in these blog posts, statements that Anderson claims to have made to Jobs may make it harder for Jobs to continue to contend that he did not “appreciate” the accounting implications of options backdating. However, the White Collar Crime Prof blog (here) is skeptical that these statements will lead to criminal or even civil charges against Jobs. A copy of Fred Anderson’s attorney’s statement can be found here.

Send Lawyers, Guns and Money: According to Wikipedia, Namibia is about half the size of Alaska, but is one of the most sparsely populated countries on earth. Its population of about 2 million is roughly equivalent to the population of the Cleveland metropolitan area. The official language is English. Adjacent to South Africa on Africa’s west coast, Nambia’s climate ranges from desert to subtropical, and is generally hot and dry. Windhoek (pronounced “Vind-hook”), Namibia’s capital, has about 230,000 people, and has a semi-desert climate. Minimum temperatures rarely fall below 40 degrees F. Apparently, you don't have to live like a refugee.

1 Comments:

Blogger stanley said...

Would you please leave Kobi Alexander alone,we have accepted him as a Namibian and we are quite happy with what he is doing for the poor.This whole saga reminds me of Lazarus of the bible when he ask Jesus what he should do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and Jesus told him to give all his precious possesions away.Mr alexander is trying to do some good here even more good than what Mr. Busch can do for Africa.Mr alexander i hope you stay for good in my beautiful country NAMIBIA.I am following your story closely here from the United Kingdom.

8:43 AM  

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