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Ex-Comverse execs busted by Feds

Three former executives of mobile messaging company Comverse were charged with fraudulently acquiring million of dollars Wednesday through a long running stock options scam.

Former chief executive officer Jacob “Kobi” Alexander, former chief financial officer David Kreinberg, and former general counsel William Sorin were charged by the The US Department of Justice for allegedly orchestrating the scheme by fraudulently backdating the options and operating a secret stock options slush fund.

The DoJ has already seized $45m from two investment accounts held in the US in Alexander’s name and believe the alleged money laundering scheme, which took place between 1998 and 2002, involves the secret transfer of more than $57m to accounts in Israel in an effort to conceal the funds from US authorities.

The FBI also claims that Alexander and Kreinberg generated hundreds of thousands of backdated options, which they parked in a secret slush fund to be used at Alexander’s sole discretion to benefit favoured employees. To create the slush fund, Alexander and Kreinberg inserted fictitious names into the list of option recipients and then deposited the options in an account aptly named “Phantom”.

This account was later re-named “Fargo”, a choice which seems quite befitting given that the film of the same name was about bumbling criminals.

“As alleged in the complaint, the defendants abused their positions in order to enrich themselves and favoured employees at the expense of the investing public,” stated US Attorney Mauskopf. “By backdating these options, the defendants, in effect, gave themselves and others an opportunity to place a bet in the middle of a race — a bet that paid off handsomely.”

Assistant Director Burrus of the FBI added: “The alleged scheme of these defendants in back-dating options victimized both Comverse shareholders and the American people.

“Their alleged fraud affected the company’s bottom line by deliberately misstating earnings, a material misrepresentation to shareholders.”

With the company in the midst of an internal review following the scandal, Comverse this week made a request to the Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Panel for an additional extension to filing deadlines it is facing. The company is in increasing risk of being delisted for failing to post its filings.

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