Thursday, January 14, 2010

ERHC's Dan Kenney Responds To Ledbetter Charges

ERHC Energy's p.r. contractor, Dan Keeney, has responded to publication of Jim Ledbetter's charges without addressing any of the particulars. The company was unavailable for comment at the time the story was posted before dawn on Wed., Jan 13, and after midnight on Jan. 14.

Here is his comment:

Date: Wed, 13 Jan 2010 09:52:45 -0600
From: "Daniel Keeney, APR"


Your post the other day stated that "the company was unavailable for comment," which is strange because my contact information is pretty ubiquitous and nobody tried to contact me prior to posting your wild accusations about ERHC. It is absolutely astonishing to me that you did not contact the company before publishing allegations of illegal activities - not once but twice now. You clearly have an agenda to harm the company without regard to the veracity of your supposed sources of information.


Daniel Keeney, APR

DPK Public Relations

With respect to any "agenda" I might have:

Since I fought the federal allegations from the beginning and frequently argued for the copmpany's innocence with respect to charges the FBI proffered to the Federal Grand Jury in Dallas, it seems clear to me that ERHC On The Move has no malicious agenda. In fact, we sent a very clear positive signal to investors when the share price was $0.12 in January 2009, helping to spark a very strong period of share price growth from which the company and shareholders alike benefitted enormously. We didn't get any thank-you note on that occasion, either.

The company never bothered to thank us for the many efforts we made to clear their name - from contacting numerous other journalists who had attacked it to speaking with the US Attorney who bnrought the case - so we find it quite easy to believe they turned a cold shoulder to Jim Ledbetter as well. I note that the fact Jim is homeless, alone and possibly suicidal has not elicited any sympathy. At this point, they have not even offered the man crocodile tears.

As for his charges with respect to Godsonic, they were widely debated on other investor Websites. we don't recall the company responding to those concerns, either. However, in our estimate the charges may have merit and deserve an airing.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

With Fed Probe Behind It, ERHC Faces New Charges From Ledbetter

The FBI has returned all the documents it seized from the company's Houston headquarters as part of the probe of Rep. William Jefferson that sent the former Louisiana congressman to federal prison, it said Tuesday. ERHC On The Move had long reported that the investigation was a long and fruitless exercise based on no more than a newspaper clipping concerning the ex-congressman in its files.

Other pundits repeatedly claimed the company was deeply implicated by the Jefferson probe because a former director who became a government informant was taped by the FBI as she met with Jefferson on behalf of another company.

The probe cost investors tens of millions of dollars in share price declines, but the Justice Dept. was long unwilling to say it had no evidence to proceed. Indeed, the charges crippled the company's stock price growth at the most critical time in its existence, just after it was awarded potentially lucrative concessions in several blocks of the Nigeria-San Tome & Principe Joint Development Zone (JDZ) and was searching for partners to help develop the concessions.

It is believed by many that major oil companies, including ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco, who had competing bids and claims in the Gulf Of Guinea, used their considerable influence with the Bush Administration to get ERHC indicted on charges that were apparently groundless.

Even as the documents were returned, however, an admittedly broke and inebriated former technical director for ERHC Energy told ERHC On The Move that company CEO Peter Ntephe bribed Godsonic, a Nigerian company with strong political connections, with a payment of $245,000 that was purportedly intended to coerce Godsonic to sign a document it was already required to sign, with the implication that the payment went to Nigerian officials. The payment, reported in company SEC filings, excited considerable controversy on investor boards at the time.

Ledbetter also charged that his lawyer was bought off by the company with a $50,000 payment that he said was made by a Nigerian company a month after he gave up his lawsuit. He said the unnamed company had opened for one day to make the payment and closed the next day. He said ERHC spent $1.5 million on four attorneys who fought the Ledbetter lawsuit.

He also said the company's exploration of five wells in Block 4 had failed to produce evdence of oil and gas in commercial quantities. The company announced the end of drilling last week. It is pursuing other opportunities in the Nigerian energy business, it said in an earlier statement.

Ledbetter says he is living in his car and close to committing suicide. "My date of death may be today or tomorrow," he responded when asked during an early-morning telephone call for his date of birth to verify his identity. Calls to Houston police and a national suicide hotline failed to locate Ledbetter.

The FBI probe may not have taken the Godsonic payment into consideration, given its apparent occurrence long after the May 2006 seizure of the company's documents.

Here is the company's press release:

Federal Investigators Return Documents of ERHC Energy Inc.

HOUSTON, January 12, 2010 – ERHC Energy Inc. (OTCBB:ERHE), a publicly traded American company with oil and gas assets in the highly prospective Gulf of Guinea off the coast of West Africa, today announced the return of all the documents taken by federal investigators from its corporate headquarters in May 2006. A total of 106 boxes containing original archival records from the Company’s inception until 2006 have been returned.

“This is a positive start to a new year in which the Company will be targeting several benchmarks in its strategies toward corporate growth and the enhancement of shareholder value,” said Peter Ntephe, chief operating officer with ERHC.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Broke, Alone And Desperate, ERHC's Ledbetter Is At Brink Of Suicide

Somewhere in Houston this morning, former ERHC Energy technical engineer James Ledbetter is alone, cold, living in his car, angry and a little drunk.

"I am just so angry," he told us in a 20-minute phone call at 4:37 AM local time.

"Peter Ntephe, the CEO of ERHC Energy, violated the Federal Corrupt Practices Act by making a $240,000 payment to Godsonic to sign off on a document that they were already required by law to so sign off on." He said he protested to Ntephe, to the company's Controller, Sylvan Odobulu, to Howard Jeter, the former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria who sits on ERHC Energy's board, and the board itself, all to no avail. Instead, he said, on Dec. 17, 2008, then Acting CEO Ntephe "walked into my office and said, 'We need to talk.'"

"I thought something good was going to happen," he said.

Instead, Ntephe introduced a lawyer and fired him, saying "We're not going to continue your employment." He wouldn't answer any questions about why, Ledbetter said, and had an armed guard escort him from the office to his home, where any ERHC documents he had were seized.

"I was not given any unemployment insurance, severance payment or anything," Ledbetter said. On the telephone line I heard a rough, broken sob. Ledbetter said he spent $5,000 on a lawyer to get unemployment, and a month later gave up. ERHC had fought back with four lawyers, he said.

"They paid $1.5 million in two months to challenge me," he said. "One month after I gave up, my lawyer received a $50,000 payment from Nigeria." Friends told him that to accomplish that, "A Nigerian company opened up for one day, for the payment, and closed the next day." None of the payment went to Ledbetter.

Now he's lost his wife and his home in a divorce that ended four months ago. He said he feared that this conversation would cost him everything else he had. Then he went off on a tangent.

"During exploration, they found a lot of oil," he said. "They found gas. But it wasn't enough to develop."

To ascertain that it was Ledbetter, who had called us shortly after his firing, we asked his date of birth. He gave it to us, and then said, "My date of death may be today or tomorrow."

His last words were, "Nigerians don't give a sh-t about other people."
There was a click and the line went dead.

The Houston Police Dept. told us that without an address for Ledbetter, they were unable to help. A national suicide hotline promised to try to get Ledbetter on the phone after a Houston police dispatch supervisor named Wagner said there was nothing they could do with a name, age and phone number. They suggested I call the FBI in Washington.

I told Ledbetter during our conversation that he was not a lot worse off than many ERHC investors. I urged him to get food stamps like I do. When I called back after he hung up, I urged him to get in touch with the police and get help. I gave him the number and I offered to take him in for a while if he would promise not to drink and could get himself to Florida.

He didn't call back. He didn't pick up when I called again.

The company was unavailable for comment.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

No Oil, But Plenty Of Money For New Investments

After spending a small fortune trying to find oil without success in the Gulf Of Guinea, a Saturday January 9 report says ERHC Energy is going to explore the possibility of joint ventures with other firms in the oil and energy business in Nigeria. This comes as the company also announced the end of drilling in Block 4, where five wells drilled over the past four months have not yielded any petroleum.

Here is the story from LeadershipNigeria:

ERHC Energy Inc. Pursues Investments In Nigeria Oil And Gas Industry

Written by By Indo Ali, Abuja with Agency Report
Saturday, 09 January 2010 00:23

A publicly traded American company with oil and gas assets in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of West Africa, ERHC Energy Inc, has announced that negotiations are underway on potential investments that would expand the company's presence in Nigeria's oil and gas industry.

ERHC has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU), with Circle Ltd. and Excel Exploration and Production Limited to negotiate investment in, and acquisition of working interests in the Eremor Marginal Field (OML 46). The Eremor Field, which is located in shallow water off-shore Nigeria, was discovered in 1978.

The discovery well, Eremor-1, encountered three oil and gas zones, the most prominent of which is the D-03 reservoir with 43 feet of net oil sand. It was re-entered for testing in 2005 with the D-03 reservoir testing 2,200 barrels per day of oil with API gravity of 220, a low gas to oil ratio and no water. Excel was awarded a 100 per cent interest and operatorship of Eremor in 2003.

ERHC, through its locally incorporated subsidiary, ERHC Energy Nigeria Limited, has also entered into a non-binding MOU with WellTest Integrated Services Limited to negotiate the acquisition of a controlling equity interest in WellTest. The company provides well testing, production engineering and procurement services to Nigeria's oil and gas industry.

To coordinate the company's business development in the Nigerian and West African oil and gas industry, ERHC has opened its Nigeria liaison office at Oguda Close, Maitama, Abuja. The company's wholly owned subsidiary ERHC Energy Nigeria Limited operates the liaison office.

"With considerable progress being made in the ongoing exploration campaign of our oil and gas interests in the Nigeria Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone (JDZ), this is the right time to accelerate business development activities elsewhere," said Peter Ntephe, Chief Operating Officer of ERHC. "These opportunities will begin the process of diversifying our portfolio of assets and accelerate the timeline for producing revenues. We are also investigating other exploration and production opportunities and will report progress to stockholders at the earliest appropriate time."

The MOUs are non-binding and the completion of the transaction is subject to, among other things, negotiation of a definitive agreement, satisfactory due diligence and adequate financing.

The parties expect to enter into a definitive agreement and complete the transactions, subject to satisfaction of closing conditions and the receipt of all necessary regulatory and other approvals, including board approvals.