Experimental feature

Listen to this article

Experimental feature

Jacob “Kobi” Alexander, the former chief executive of Comverse Technology, was branded a fugitive from justice on Tuesday by US authorities seeking his arrest in connection with alleged securities fraud at the maker of voicemail software.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Marshals requested the public’s assistance in apprehending Mr Alexander, who is alleged to have reaped millions in ill-gotten gains by engaging in a scheme to change the grant dates of stock options to coincide with low points in the value of Comverse’s shares.

More than 80 companies are under investigation by US authorities amid suspicions that executives may have intentionally falsified the grant dates of stock options to evade disclosure rules and accounting charges.

Mr Alexander was one of three Comverse executives charged with securities fraud in connection with an alleged options backdating scheme.

The whereabouts of Mr Alexander, who holds joint US-Israeli citizenship, was unknown on Tuesday night.

Robert Morvillo, Mr Alexander’s attorney, told the Bloomberg news service that he had not spoken to his client since he called his office from Israel at least three weeks ago.

David Kreinberg, Comverse’s former chief financial officer and William Sorin, the company’s former general counsel, surrendered to FBI agents last week in New York. They were later released after posting $1m bail.

Mr Alexander and his associates were forced to step down from Comverse in April, a month after the Wall Street Journal published a report outlining suspicious patterns of stock options grants at the company.

A federal criminal complaint unsealed last week alleged that the three men had engaged in a “long-running scheme” to mislead shareholders and regulators about the company’s options granting practices.

In addition, Mr Alexander and Mr Kreinberg are alleged to have used fake employee names to create a secret options “slush fund”, which they used to award options to favoured employees.

Comverse’s shares fell 15 per cent in March after it said improper accounting of stock options would force it to restate several years’ worth of financial results.

Mr Alexander, who emigrated from Israel in the 1970s, founded Comverse in 1981.

The company later grew to become one of the world’s biggest makers of software that powers voice messaging systems.

Get alerts on Technology sector when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

Comments have not been enabled for this article.

Follow the topics in this article