Friday, April 27, 2007

The whitewash rolls on unabated (and enabled by this flowery Israeli story)

Kobi Alexander's extradition hearing postponed to June at prosecution request

By Shirley Yom-Tov

The hearing on Jacob (Kobi) Alexander's extradition from Namibia to the U.S., which was scheduled to begin yesterday, was postponed until June 8. Alexander's attorneys did not object to the prosecution's request for the delay, no reason for which was cited. The date for the hearing, which will be held in the Namibian capitol, Windhoek, was set six months ago.

Alexander and other officers at the Israeli technology company Comverse Technologies are accused of back-dating and front-loading stock option grants, creating a slush fund of options for workers they wished to reward, giving options to imaginary people and many other charges. Two Comverse officers surrendered to the FBI, but Alexander fled and then resurfaced in Namibia, to which he had transferred much of his personal fortune and established himself. The United States is trying to extradite him for prosecution.

The continuance request may be related to the campaign launched by Alexander's public relations, firm, TBWA. In his latest effort to capture the hearts of the Namibian people, Alexander has announced a scholarship fund, named for himself and his wife Hana and totalling 150,000 Namibian dollars (about $21,000).

On Tuesday The Namibian reported that the announcement of the scholarship was accompanied by a long press release from the Windhoek Education Ministry, praising Alexander for his contributions to the country. Alexander has been living in Namibia since last August. A function to celebrate the announcement was canceled - at Alexander's request, according to the spokesman for the Education Ministry.

Alexander pledged to invest 100 million Namibian dollars (about $14 million) in Namibian education over five years via Kobi Alexander Enterprises, the Namibian press says. According to "Namibia: Wanted U.S. millionaire starts up a scholarship fund," an article on the SomaliNet Web site, some of the money will be used to "reward top performing students both at primary and secondary school levels."

Billboards praising Alexander have also appeared on Windhoek streets in the past few days.

While the Namibian government has described Alexander, who the Windhoek court set free on bail, as "very passionate" about the country and its people, the country's main newspaper is still critical in its coverage of the Alexander affair. Alexander's technological and business background may win applause, The Namibian states, while pointing out that the Education Ministry's press release failed to mention the circumstances of his love assault on the country - the fact that he is a wanted man.

Alexander faces more than 30 counts in the American courts, including attempted bribery, which aren't mentioned in the giant billboard set up in Windhoek that praises his local activities. Alexander is thought to have gained only about $6 million personally from backdating options, while his personal fortune amounts to much more than that.

At present more than 100 companies are being investigated for backdating. Comverse can claim the dubious honor of having been one of the first.

The Namibian may also be dubious about the honor of hosting Alexander in the country, but he's won the hearts of many a local power with his investments in the southern African country. Namibia is ravenous for foreign investment and management skills, and it doesn't necessarily stand to attention when America snaps its fingers. It may well be able to avail itself of Kobi Alexander's management skills for many a year to come.

Original article posted here.

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