(Image courtesy of skyscrapercity.com)
I'll admit, there are days when I yearn to cash all my chips, get an old land rover and disappear into the Namibian bush. It would be a vain attempt to recapture my glory years there, and wrong for any number of reasons, but still, it has its appeal. I am not, nor plan to be, a fugitive from justice, but apparently it occurred to at least one fraudulent investor fleeing extradition charges to take the money and run and set up house in grand style in Namibia's capitol, Windhoek. According to The New York Times:
"In 2006, a federal jury indicted Jacob (Kobi) Alexander, an Israeli-American business wunderkind, on charges of wire and securities fraud. Mr. Alexander and his family flew to Namibia, which has no extradition treaty with the United States.
The fugitive more or less tried to buy Namibia. He sponsored scholarships and built low-income solar-powered buildings, and he lived in a spectacular home in Windhoek. Last summer, according to The Wall Street Journal, he apparently felt confident enough to throw a four-day bar mitzvah for his son — and charter a jet to fly in 200 friends from New York City."
Namibia is not some Banana Republic, though it cleaves proudly to its "non-aligned status". You could live very well indeed there with a 1st world income. Mr. Alexander spread around $14 million in cynical donations to curry favor in Namibia, much of it invested in his own enterprises, and time will tell if that buys him anything extra during his upcoming extradition hearing in June. He was initially admitted in 2006 on a 2 year work visa with the promise that he would spend $300 million Namibian dollars in the country (then worth $42.25 million US). He transfered $16.9 million from a bank in Israel before extradition proceedings were brough against him. I would not hold my breath waiting for him to come up with the balance.
Frankly, if you are going to lam it in Namibia, you should show some class and earn it. There is, for example, the extraordinary tale of Henno Martin and Hermann Korn: two German emigrants who avoided interment as enemy aliens during WWII by hiding out in the Namib desert from May 1940 to September 1942. Martin's tale of their epic of survival and lonely contemplation - "Wenn es Krieg gibt, gehen wir in die Wüste" - is available in English translation as The Sheltering Desert and is a great read. Martin and Korn were geologists and made valuable contributions to that field based on what they observed in the Namib. The Geological Society of Namibia awards an annual Henno Martin Medal to the best scientific publication of a geologist in Namibia.
You can't buy that, Mr. Alexander. Character is not a commodity, and $16.9 million won't last you long once you've tried to sway an independent judiciary and pay off your lawyers. Better go down to the Buchcellar in Windhoek and pick up a copy of The Sheltering Desert. You are going to need to know where the water is.
CWCID: Jungle Trader