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Comverse chief tried to bribe colleague to take blame, US says

Bloomberg News / October 3, 2006
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Jacob ``Kobi" Alexander, the former Comverse Technology Inc. chief executive facing extradition from Namibia, tried to bribe a colleague to take the blame for the crimes he's accused of, a US official said.

Alexander, 54, who is charged with stock-option manipulation, offered an unidentified executive $2 million, then $5 million and said he would pay even more, Marilyn Williams, an assistant US legal attache, told a judge yesterday. Alexander, who appeared at a court in Katatura, Namibia, seeking bail, may flee if released on bond, Williams said.

``He told the individual he can name his own price," Williams said, adding that Alexander told the person he would not go to jail in the United States and would leave the country. ``We have no reason to believe Mr. Alexander will not flee again," said Williams, who works at the US embassy in Pretoria, the capital of Namibia's neighbor South Africa.

The hearing on whether to grant Alexander bail resumes today . Alexander lawyer Rudi Cohrssen said his client would appeal to Namibia's High Court if he's refused bail. If he is freed on bond he'll fight extradition, Cohrssen said.

Alexander was arrested in Windhoek, the Namibian capital, Wednesday and has since been in jail. The United States wants him extradited to face a 32-count indictment relating to backdating of stock options. The charges against him include conspiracy, securities fraud, making false filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission and money laundering.

Williams didn't identify the person she says Alexander tried to bribe. The individual has agreed to cooperate in the case and is being protected, she said.

Hermann Oosthuizen, another Alexander lawyer, told the judge that Williams's allegations are hearsay.

Alexander, through a statement read in court by Oosthuizen, argued he should be freed on bail because the African nation modified a law to allow his arrest. Namibia amended its laws governing extradition effective Sept. 27 to allow the rendering of fugitives to the Unites States, according to a letter from Brooklyn US Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf's office filed in federal court in New York. There is no extradition treaty between the two countries.

Interpol asked Namibia Aug. 18 to investigate whether Alexander was in the country, the court was told by police officials. The instruction to modify Namibia's extradition laws was made the same day and came into force Wednesday when it appeared in a government newspaper.

The 32-count federal indictment charges Alexander with crimes related to the backdating of stock options from 1998 to 2006. The charges against Alexander and two former Comverse executives are the most wide-ranging from more than 130 inquiries started by US authorities and companies into manipulations of stock options timing.

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