The days of "options backdating" prosecutions and SEC enforcement actions are long past. As far back as 2009, the SEC's San Francisco Regional Office, which brought the vast majority of those cases, stated that it had brought its final options backdating case. For years, however, there has been one notable case sitting on the back burner: the case against former Comverse Technology Inc. CEO Jacob “Kobi” Alexander.
In 2006, Comverse became a focus in prosecutors' and regulators' options backdating sweep. Shortly before being indicted, Alexander and his family moved to Namibia, which at the time had had no extradition treaty with the U.S. For the last 10 years, Alexander has remained in Namibia, making the best of his exile by living in an upscale gated community on the grounds of the Windhoek Country Club and doing things such as paying for 200 guests to fly in from New York and Israel for his son's Bar Mitzvah.
In 2010, Alexander settled the SEC's case against him by paying over $53 million, including a $6 million fine payable to the SEC. He also agreed to pay $60 million to Comverse as part of the settlement of securities class actions against the company. The criminal charges against Alexander remained pending until this week, however, when Alexander agreed to return to the U.S. to plead guilty to one count of securities fraud related solely to backdating. CNBC reports that Alexander's guilty plea "is the product of more than two years of sensitive negotiations among the Justice Department, Alexander's attorneys, and government authorities in Namibia."
Yesterday, Alexander appeared before U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis to enter his guilty plea and to ask to remain free on bond until his sentencing, which is scheduled for December 2016. Alexander reportedly told the court that he has "deeply regret" for his conduct and his attorney, Benjamin Brafman, "personally vouched for his client 'with all my heart.'” Judge Garaufis, however, quickly shot down any hope Alexander may have had of remaining free, telling Brafman "[i]t doesn't matter what you say. This is a very smart man (Alexander) who's made millions and millions of dollars. He's sizing up the situation on this side of the bench, so spare me, I wasn't born yesterday." The judge added that he did not believe Alexander could be trusted, stating that “I want to make sure that on the day of sentencing he is here.”
Alexander will remain in custody at the federal jail in Brooklyn until his December 16, 2016 sentencing.