- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 27, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — The fugitive former chief executive of leading voice mail software maker Comverse Technology Inc. has been captured in Africa after a two-month international manhunt, U.S. officials announced yesterday.

Details of the arrest of Jacob “Kobi” Alexander in the Republic of Namibia were not immediately available. But in a statement, U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf credited local officials in the southwest African nation for assisting the FBI in the capture.

“We are very grateful for the Namibians’ swift action and commend them for their vigilance,” she said.

She said the government would seek Alexander’s swift extradition to face charges in federal court in Brooklyn. A call to his defense attorney in New York was not immediately returned.

The manhunt began in late July shortly before authorities unsealed a criminal complaint accusing Alexander and two other former top executives of secretly manipulating stock options for personal profit.

Before he disappeared, Alexander, 54, an Israeli citizen and a U.S. permanent resident, reputedly transferred $57 million to Israel, fueling speculation he may have fled there. News reports in Israel speculated that he may have been hiding out in a small Sri Lankan fishing village.

Two other defendants, former finance chief David Kreinberg and former senior general counsel William Sorin, surrendered in August and were released on $1 million bond each.

The complaint unsealed in federal court accuses the three men of making stock options more lucrative by backdating their exercise price to a low point in the stock’s value. Usually, a stock option’s exercise price coincides with the market value at the time of a grant to give the recipient an incentive to drive the price higher.

From 1991 through 2005, Alexander exercised options and sold stocks worth approximately $150 million, making $138 million profit, according to the complaint. Of that, about $6.4 million was generated by backdating options, it said.

Prosecutors charge Mr. Kreinberg and Mr. Sorin earned about $1 million each on backdated options.

In addition, the company awarded thousands of stock options to fictional employees, then secretly transferred the awards to an internal account under the name I.M. Fanton, which stood for phantom, court papers said. The scheme allowed Alexander to award those options to real “favored employees” and to himself without board of directors’ approval, the papers added.

Comverse Technology is headquartered in Wakefield, Mass.

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