Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Reporter Says ERHC No Factor So Far In Jefferson Trial

A journalist whom I cannot name, but who is well-known to ERHC Energy investors for his coverage of the Rep. William Jefferson case and its ties to Florida investor Noreen Wilson, a former ERHC Energy executive, says that to his surprise there is no indication that the company will play any role at all in the Jefferson case.

Instead, he said, the only Jefferson-related link between Wilson and the case is through Procura, a South African firm about which little is known. Another one-time ERHC consultant is also expected to testify, but his relationship with Wilson is the probative element in his testimony, not his ties to ERHC Energy. He noted that none of the upcoming testimony, to the degree it may have been discernible to him from filings and interviews, touches on ERHC.

Earlier speculation and numerous articles in the general press led many investors to believe the Jefferson case was inextricably tied to ERHC through Wilson or others. I warned repeatedly that such specualtion was groundless, and that the company's ties to Jefferson were unsupported in any potential evidence taken from ERHC's offices late last Spring.

That estimate could change as the trial progresses, but if the ERHC matter remains severed from Rep. Jefferson's woes, it may well indicate a loss of interest in ERHC on the part of the U.S. Dept. of Justice. The department has gone out on a limb in trying to establish answers to questions raised in a report paid for by Pioneer Natural Resiources investor and billionaire George Soros.

Soros' credibility has been brought into sharp focus in recent days by a study he funded of Iraq War casualties that suggested more than 600,000 deaths had been caused by the war. A careful follow-up study revealed the number was closer to 100,000, and Soros'es veracity took a major hit.

Soros funded the study by the Senior Lawyer Project that formed the basis of a report by the Sao Tome Attorney General's office that suggested but did not offer evidence for claims that the company had bribed officials of Sao Tome & Principe in its 13-year pursuit of rights to offshore oil concessions in what is now the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone, an oil-rich region of the Gulf of Guinea.

Both the Nigerian and Sao Tomean governments have formally rejected the report, claiming its allegations were false. The indictment of another study paid for by Soros only reinforces the conclusion that it was spurred more by competitive forces - Pioneer became a disaffected partner of ERHC Energy in 2005 - than by actual wrongdoing.

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