Friday, April 27, 2007
The extradition process for former Comverse Technology, Inc. CEO Kobi Alexander slowed even more as Namibian prosecutors requested a postponement of the first hearing on his case until June to select a new magistrate. While the extradition request by U.S. prosecutors to have him face charges related to options backdating and obstruction of justice at the company won't be decided any time soon, Alexander has embarked on a public relations and investment campaign that appears designed to garner support from the Namibian government and people. According to an article in Israeli daily Ha'aretz (here), he has announced a scholarship fund for Namibian students of $21,000 -- named after himself and his wife. A press release issued by the Education Ministry praised Alexander's contribution. The story also notes that billboards supporting Alexander have appeared around Windhoek, the Namibian capitol where Alexander lives and has promised to invest millions in low-cost housing.
It will be interesting to see whether public sympathy generated by the campaign -- organized by worldwide PR firm TBWA -- will be able to outweigh pressure from the United States government on the Republic of Namibia. A report from USAID (here) notes that while Namibia has developed a democratic government and free press, it also suffers from one of the highest rates of AIDS. In 2005, USAID provided over $42 million in assistance through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. That level of assistance and other aid could make it hard for the Namibian government to reject an extradition request for Alexander. Don't hold your breath for a resolution of the case any time soon. (ph)