At a trial where ERHC Energy was never mentioned, Rep. William Jefferson fought to put his many African relationships in a better light - and failed. A federal jury yesterday convicted the infamous Louisiana congressman on 11 of 16 counts of bribery after an investigation that began with the discover of $90,000 carefully wrapped amid household food items in a deep freeze at his home.
The cold cash eventually led investigators back along a money trail that originated in deals involving telecommunications contracts in Africa. Along the way, it looked at one time that Jefferson's pursuers would take down Abu Abubakar, the Vice President of Nigeria in the previous Obasanjo administration, but left a wide range of entities - although not all of them, as several turned state's witness - free and clear.
The outcome would seem to throw into doubt the investigation of ERHC Energy that began with a raid on the company's files in Houston two years ago that uncovered a William Hefferson file - probably a newspaper clipping - proceeded through a series of damning articles by Ken Silverstein on Harper's Online and a long hit piece in the New Yorker, and finally ended up going nowhere.
Meanwhile, ERHE, the company's stock, has jumped nearly 700% this year, from a low od $0.10 to $0.71 roday, with bright oprospects for the dollar mark and beyond by the end of this month as drilling finally begins on ERHC concessions in the Gulf of Guinea.