FBI: Kobi Alexander offered colleague $5m to take the fall
Jacob "Kobi" Alexander, the founder of Comverse Technology, is suspected of offering bribes to another company executive to take responsibility for the deeds for which he is now being sought after by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). The revelation was made in court in Namibia's capital, Windhoek. The hearing will continue today, which is expected to conclude with a decision whether Alexander would remain under arrest.
In a declaration he submitted to the court, Alexander said he is prepared to deposit his Israeli passport and bail of 10 million Namibian dollars - about $1.3 million - as collateral guaranteeing he would not flee the country and would appear for all future legal proceedings concerning him.
Alexander, in an open black shirt and a dark jacket, "seemed most relaxed", Namibian journalist Warner Menges of The Namibian, told TheMarker. Menges, who is covering the story for his daily, said, "He seems much more relaxed than during last week's hearing, in which he was under the shock of spending his first night in jail."
The Windhoek Magistrate's Court in Katutura was packed. Among those attending were Kobi's sister Shaula, who is also a high-tech entrepreneur and company owner, and his wife Hanna. Several members of the press, state prosecution representatives and a battery of Alexander's three lawyers were also there. Likewise, a delegation from the U.S. embassy was also prominent, including Marlene Williams, whom the press has identified as an agent of the FBI. Williams, who arrived from Pretoria, presented herself as assistant legal adviser of the U.S. embassy and as such is qualified in several countries in the south of the continent.
At a certain stage Williams took the witness stand and explained her request to keep Alexander under arrest and to have him extradited. She emphasized that Alexander is a fugitive of U.S. law. "We don't have any reason to believe that he wouldn't try to flee again," she proclaimed. During her testimony she revealed that after the investigation against Alexander commenced, he turned to a senior manager at Comverse and offered him a $2 million bribe if he would take the blame for what was facing Alexander. "The manager refused and then Alexander raised his offer to $5 million. When that was rejected, he offered the executive: Take whatever sum you want. The executive refused again." She did not testify how this information was obtained, whether by wiretapping or by the executive's testimony.
One of Alexander's lawyers attempted to dismiss Williams' testimony, claiming she was passing on hearsay from the prosecution in New York.
The hearing yesterday and today just deals with the question of bail. The hearing on extradition has yet to commence. The hearing did forbid Alexander from talking to the press, though he managed to exchange a few pleasantries with Israeli journalists. One of his lawyers told TheMarker that the sub judice nature of the case means neither Alexander nor he could discuss the case in public.
According to Alexander's statement to the court, the extradition request and the international arrest warrant against him are full of technical and administrative flaws and are therefore invalid.
Alexander also claims that the decision by the Namibian judge to arrest him is full of legal flaws. In his statement he explains that he does not have U.S. citizenship and is not a resident of the U.S., and that he only holds Israeli citizenship.
Alexander claims he entered Namibia after taking a planned vacation from Israel in June 2006. He came to Namibia intending to invest there and live there and even obtained a two-year work permit. As additional evidence he points to the fact that he entered the country under his own name and that in all of his meetings with government clerks, he used his real name and did not try to hide his identity. As additional proof of the honesty of his intentions, he raised the point that he entered the country with his wife and three children, who had already begun studying in the international school in Windhoek.