Kobi Alexander plea deal would end exile

US Attorney Loretta Lynch: Alexander fled halfway around the world, but he was not able to escape the financial consequences of his crimes.

Following a settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the civil charges against him, former Comverse Technology Inc. (Pink Sheets: CMVT) CEO Kobi Alexander's next task will be to reach a plea bargain with the federal prosecutor, which will enable him to end his Namibian exile. A plea bargain would be Alexander's first step in dealing with the criminal charges against him.

A plea bargain could enable Alexander to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for the prosecutor withdrawing the more serious charges, and possibly even avoid jail time, provided that he surrenders to the US authorities. The US authorities have so far been unable to persuade the Namibian courts to extradite Alexander to the US, which might be an important bargaining chip held by Alexander's legal team in potential negotiations with federal prosecutors.

Yesterday, Alexander agreed to pay $53.6 million to end civil actions by US prosecutors and regulators. The sum includes a $6 million penalty, and $47 million in disgorgement and interest. The $47 million will paid through a forfeiture order against Alexander's assets in the US. As part of the settlement, prosecutors agreed to return forfeited funds to Comverse investors, per terms of existing shareholder lawsuits.

The lawsuits and federal charges filed in 2006 stem from the options backdating scandal. Instead of appearing in court, Alexander fled the US to Namibia, with which the US has no extradition treaty. He has since been living in a luxury house at the edge of a golf course in the capital, Windhoek, together with his wife and children.

Both the federal prosecutors and Alexander's attorney in New York declined to respond to questions about a possible plea bargain with Alexander.

Attorney Jeremy Temkin told "Globes", "Completely theoretically, irrespective of Alexander, any deal of a suspect with the authorities is definitely possible, but I cannot respond in the case of Kobi."

Temkin said, "Mr. Alexander is pleased to have resolved the SEC and civil-forfeiture actions and to put these matters behind him."

A federal prosecutor spokesman said that as far as the US authorities are concerned, Alexander is a fugitive and that efforts to extradite him from Namibia were going ahead at full speed. The spokesman said, "Settlement of the civil proceedings against Mr. Alexander has no effect on the criminal proceedings against him. The moment he sets foot in the US, he will be arrested, brought to court, and he can expect imprisonment and/or a fine at the decision of the judge."

"Alexander fled halfway around the world, but he was not able to escape the financial consequences of his crimes,” US Attorney Loretta Lynch in Brooklyn said in the statement. She added that the case emphasized the important role of forefeiture in returning stolen funds to victims.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 24, 2010

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2010

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