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Kobi Alexander

US presses Namibia on Alexander extradition

Senior US officials preparing to submit extradition request in Namibia for fugitive Israeli software millionaire

Senior US officials are preparing to submit an extradition request in Namibia for fugitive software millionaire Jacob “Kobi” Alexander, but legal experts said on Wednesday they could face an uphill task.


Alexander, 54, former chief executive and founder of Comverse Technology Inc., Is wanted in the United States on charges of manipulating stock options.


He was arrested in Namibia last month, but a magistrate this week released him on bail of USD 1.3 million, rejecting prosecution arguments that the wealthy businessman could flee and ignoring US pressure on the government.


Alexander was not required to plead on the US charges at his Namibia hearing, but American media reports on Tuesday quoted a statement from him as saying: “I intend to plead not guilty and will defend the charges on merit if ever extradited.”


US officials said on Wednesday they would press ahead with a formal extradition request within a 30-day time limit. Alexander was arrested on Sept. 27 in Windhoek, capital of the Southwest African country, where he had been living with family.


He was released from custody after his successful bail hearing on Monday but was forced to surrender his passport.


“We intend to provide an application and pursue his extradition,” Said Ray Castillo, spokesman for the US Embassy.


“We trust that they are taking every possible precaution to ensure that Alexander does not flee Namibia,” Castillo said.


But legal experts, citing a similar case involving German citizen Hans Juergen Koch, said the United States should be prepared for a long legal battle.


Koch, 57, was arrested in October 2002 following a request from German authorities for his extradition from Namibia where he has permanent residence and an exclusive hunting farm.


Vast investments in Namibia

He has successfully used the Namibian legal system to foil attempts by Germany to extradite him from its former colony to face multiple charges of fraud. His extradition case has dragged for four years.


An official at the Legal Assistance Centre, a human rights non-governmental organization said Alexander’s case has to go first to a magistrate, then possibly up to higher courts.


“And I would think there has to be a prima facie case” for extradition to be granted, said the official who asked not to be named.


Legal experts say Alexander’s vast investments in Namibia worth USD 120 million could be key in his argument against extradition.


Alexander and others at the voicemail-software maker based in New York are accused of backdating millions of stock options to days when the shares were trading at lower prices, allowing executives to reap substantial gains, according to details of his indictment.


Alexander is charged with 32 criminal counts, ranging from alleged conspiracy to securities fraud and money laundering and could face up to 25 years in prison.


פרסום ראשון: 10.04.06, 19:38
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