Stock-Backdating Plea After 10 Years on the Lam

     BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) — A decade after his indictment, an Israeli extradited from Namibia pleaded guilty Wednesday in New York to securities fraud charges.
     Prosecutors say Jacob “Kobi” Alexander, 64, was aware of the investigation into his stock-backdating scheme when he relocated his family to the African nation in 2006.
     Prior to his exit, Alexander had been founder and CEO of Comverse Technologies, a communications software company with offices in Woodbury, N.Y.
     The government says Alexander conspired with others between 1998 and 2006 to backdate Comverse stock options that they then awarded to themselves and Comverse employees.
     “In doing so, the … co-conspirators were able to select issuance dates when Comverse stock was trading lower, thereby awarding themselves and Comverse employees ‘in-the-money’ options without properly accounting for these options in Comverse’s financial disclosures to investors,” according to a statement from the Justice Department on today’s plea. “By backdating options, the defendant and his coconspirators violated accounting rules and caused Comverse to overstate its profits.”
     Alexander reaped millions from the scheme as Comverse’s top recipient of stock options in every company-wide grant, prosecutors note.
     The government says it applied $60 million that Alexander forfeited in restitution as compensation for Comverse shareholders.
     Before Alexander fled to Namibia, prosecutors say he offered a witness a bribe to lie to federal investigators.
     Alexander’s extradition from Namibia went through just this past Monday.
     FBI agents escorted Alexander into custody at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, Wednesday morning.
     U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis heard Alexander’s guilty plea today and set sentencing for Dec. 16 at noon.
     Alexander faces up to 10 years in prison.
     “The wheels of justice turn slowly but they keep moving; this is especially true in the case against Jacob ‘Kobi’ Alexander,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez said in a statement. “Today, Alexander pled guilty to a charge that was brought forth by the FBI more than 10 years ago for his role in a securities fraud scheme. … Ensuring that all investors have factual information and our markets are fair is exactly why the FBI continues to investigate and bring those to justice who perpetrate securities fraud schemes.”

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