He is being replaced temporarily by a longtime loyal associate of ERHC Chairman Sir Emeka Offor, engineer Nicolae Luca, 46.
Chief Financial Officer Franklin Ihekwoaba also resigned after he revealed that he was not a CPA as stated on his resume, and that he had declared personal bankruptcy last December and apparently kept it secret from company officials. That may compromise any documents he submitted to the SEC and others on behalf of ERHC Energy.
Brandhuber was hired from a British firm that specializes in oil industry partnerships and mergers, and his experience served the company well as it sought new relationships to replace those with Devon Energy, Pioneer Natural Resources and Noble Energy.
The partnerships were replaced with new and better ones with China's Sinopec and Switzerland-based Addax Patroleum during his time in the job, from which the company realized more than $43 million in revenues.
All of the U.S. firms walked away from joint venture deals with ERHC in Blocks 2, 3 and 4 in advance of a probe by Tulsa University School of Law professor R. Dobie Langenkamp on behalf of George Soros, whose Earth Institute funded the International Senior Lawyer Project that was used by Sao Tome's Attorney General to conduct the two-month investigation.
The probe came up short of evidence but a plea by the Sao Tome AG to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Dept. - likely cheered on by majors Anadarko, ExxonMobil and Chevron - to prolong it bore some fruit when the former served a subpoena and the latter served a search warrant on the company's Houston headquaerters just as Brandhuber came into the office on the morning of May 4. He was questioned by Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Atty. Mary K. Dimke at the office before she flew home.
ERHC Energy shares traded at historically low volume of 251,900 today, closing at $0.41, off half a cent.
Here is the press release by ERHC's new p.r. rep, Dan Keeney:
ERHC Energy Announces Changes in Leadership
HOUSTON, July 28, 2006 – ERHC Energy Inc. (OTCBB: ERHE) today announced that its board of directors has accepted the resignation of Walter Brandhuber, chief executive officer and member of the Board. The company’s board of directors has initiated an international recruitment search for a chief executive officer.
Effective immediately, the board of directors has appointed Board Member Nicolae Luca, 46, as interim chief executive officer until a successor is named. Mr. Luca has served as a non-executive director of the company since February 2001.
Since April 1998, Mr. Luca has also served as the technical director for Chrome Oil Services Limited. He has a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering.
“We are pleased to have Nicolae Luca lead this transition process as the board conducts its search for a new CEO,” said Sir Emeka Offor, chairman of the board. “Going forward, our business strategy will be to continue to commercialize our rights in the Joint Development Zone.”
Additionally, ERHC Energy announced that Franklin Ihekwoaba, chief financial officer, vice president and a member of the board, has resigned as an officer and director. Mr. Ihekwoaba resigned after recently informing the Audit Committee that he should not have used the designation “C.P.A.” following his name and that he had initiated a personal bankruptcy proceeding in December 2005. The company has initiated an international recruitment search for a chief financial officer.