U.S. News

'Kobi' Alexander Extradition Case Postponed


A Namibian court on Friday postponed until June 25 an extradition case involving fugitive U.S. millionaire Jacob "Kobi" Alexander, who is wanted in the United States on charges of manipulating stock options.

The Namibian magistrate's court approved a defense request for the delay after lawyers said they had not been informed in advance as required by law of the appointment of a new magistrate in the case, Petrus Unengu.

"The minister must respond in writing to our letter whether the act was complied with regarding the appointment of the magistrate," defence lawyer Louis du Pisani told the court. U.S. prosecutors are seeking the return of Alexander, the former chief executive and founder of New York-based software maker Comverse Technology , on criminal charges of manipulating stock options.

Alexander has been fighting extradition to the United States since shortly after his arrest in Namibia in September, and the case has since been delayed several times.

Critics say he has tried to buy support in Namibia and avoid extradition by funding aid projects and making future pledges.

An extradition hearing was scheduled to start in Windhoek on April 25 but it did not proceed after his legal team raised objections to the magistrate.

Alexander's lawyers have said in letters to the Namibian minister of justice that the Namibian Extradition Act required a specific magistrate had to be appointed to deal with the case.

The Israeli-born Alexander remains free on bail of N$10 million ($1.4 million) -- believed to be one of the highest ever in the Southern African country -- after six days in custody.

Alexander and two other former executives at the New York-based voicemail-software maker 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 U.S. indictment.

In August, Alexander was charged in U.S. federal court in New York with 32 criminal counts ranging from alleged conspiracy to securities fraud and money laundering and could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Since his arrest, Alexander has expressed a desire to stay in Namibia and pledged to invest a total of 100 million Namibian dollars ($14 million) in the nation during the next five years through his Kobi Alexander Enterprises venture.

The Namibian government has described Alexander as "very passionate" about the country and its people, and Alexander and his wife in April announced they were launching a N$150 000
($21,345) annual scholarship fund for top performing students both at primary and secondary schools.

Alexander attended the hearing with his wife and left without speaking to reporters.