Tech CEO transferred from New York to Israeli jail to complete fraud sentence

Former Comverse chief Kobi Alexander, serving 30 months for manipulating stock options, awaiting final judge approval in Israeli detention facility

Kobi Alexander attends a fundraising dinner in New York in November 2005. (AP/David Karp)
Kobi Alexander attends a fundraising dinner in New York in November 2005. (AP/David Karp)

An Israeli ex-CEO of a technology company, who is serving a 30-month jail sentence for secretly manipulating stock options, has been transferred from a New York prison to Israel to serve the remainder of his sentence, the Justice Ministry confirmed on Sunday.

The Israel Prisons Service sent a team of guards to Manhattan last week to accompany Jacob “Kobi” Alexander, an Israeli citizen, back to Israel. The transfer was made at Alexander’s request, and was facilitated by Israel’s New York consulate.

“After US authorities approved his transferal to Israel, the minister of public security and justice minister approved his request as well,” said a statement from the Justice Ministry.

“Alexander was transferred to Israel on March 1 to serve in Israel the remainder of his jail term handed to him in the US,” the communique added.

He has since been detained in an Israeli prison, with state prosecution having requested a final judge approval for the completion of his sentence in the country, a Justice Ministry spokesperson told The Times of Israel on Monday.

Alexander vanished in 2006 while under investigation for backdating stock options for his Woodbury-based company, voicemail software maker Comverse Technology, Inc.

The Comverse building in Ramat Hahayal, Tel Aviv (Courtesy Levenstein Properties)

He frustrated federal authorities for a decade, living comfortably in exile in southwest Africa.

In August 2016, Alexander dropped his extradition fight in Namibia and agreed to plead guilty to securities fraud in federal court in Brooklyn. He was sentenced to a jail term of two-and-a-half years in February 2017, and is expected to remain incarcerated until February 13, 2019.

He admitted to charges that, from 1991 through 2005, he exercised options and sold stocks worth approximately $150 million, making a $138-million profit. Of that, about $6.4 million was generated by backdating options.

In addition, the company awarded thousands of stock options to fictional employees and then transferred the awards to a secret slush fund, court papers say. The scheme allowed Alexander to award those options to real “favored employees” and to himself without the approval of the board of directors, the papers add.

Before he disappeared, Alexander, a US permanent resident, transferred $57 million to Israel, fueling speculation he may have fled there, authorities said. He later turned up in Namibia — where he was briefly detained by local authorities — but thereafter was allowed to freely live with his family while fighting extradition.

Over the years, Alexander bought a home in Namibia and invested in local businesses. There were reports that he flew in hundreds of people for his son’s bar mitzvah and that he took up charitable causes in the capital city of Windhoek.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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