Jacob “Kobi” Alexander, the former CEO of Comverse Technology who fled to Namibia in 2006 to escape criminal charges related to stock options backdating, has agreed to settle the civil case with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission for about $53.6 million.
Comverse, a publicly held technology company, develops and markets telecommunications software, and was founded by the Israeli born Alexander in 1984. He and other Comverse executives were accused of fraudulently backdating employee option grants. Alexander was charged in 2006 with conspiracy, securities fraud, making false filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, mail and wire fraud, money laundering, and obstruction of justice. He remains a fugitive from justice and continues to fight his extradition to the United States.
In the forfeiture litigation, the government sought to forfeit two investment accounts containing over $46 million that it alleged were the proceeds of Alexander’s unlawful backdating scheme. Alexander and his wife contested the forfeiture and twice moved to dismiss the government’s complaint. Both efforts were unsuccessful, and the court ultimately struck Alexander’s claims to the accounts because he was a fugitive.
Alexander’s appeal from that decision remained pending, and his wife’s claims to the accounts are pending in the district court. In his settlement with the Justice Department, Alexander and his wife have consented to the forfeiture of the two accounts in exchange for the government’s agreement to return the forfeited funds to Comverse, the victim of the charged crimes. Comverse has committed to use the monies to settle shareholder litigation arising from the backdating scandal.
The settlement, which is subject to the court’s approval, does not affect the pending extradition proceedings in which the government seeks Alexander’s return to the United States to stand trial on the criminal charges pending against him.
“This case underscores the important role asset forfeiture plays in recovering stolen money from criminals and returning it to the victims of their crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in a statement. “Alexander fled halfway around the world, but he was not able to escape the financial consequences of his crimes.”
The Justice Department worked with the SEC on the case. Under the terms of the SEC settlement, Alexander will pay $47.6 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest and a $6 million penalty, one of the largest penalties ever imposed in a stock options backdating case, without admitting or denying the allegations. The agreement with the Justice Department will make up the bulk of the SEC settlement. Alexander will also be permanently enjoined from violating the antifraud and related provisions of the federal securities laws and will be permanently barred from serving as an officer or director of a public company, according to the agreement with the SEC.
The agreements with the SEC and the Justice Department will enable Alexander to move ahead with settlements he reached last year in civil lawsuits brought by Comverse shareholders. Those settlements were contingent on the settlements he would reach with the SEC and the Justice Department.
“When Alexander’s scheme went south, he went east, thinking he could evade law enforcement by fleeing the country,” said FBI assistant director-in-charge Fedarcyk. “However, he miscalculated the inevitable outcome of his actions and the dedication of the FBI to protect the victims of this crime.”
The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kathleen Nandan and Ilene Jaroslaw.
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