King of The Boondoggles, Part II (with video)
Quite a spike in traffic to this blog recently, mainly because of an earlier post about Frank Hertel, the oily businessman who used research-and-development tax credits to buy up Victoria real estate in the 1980s, and then fled the country, charged with tax evasion. On May 9, Hertel was arrested in London, England, after 23 years on the lam. The federal government is applying to have Hertel extradited back to Canada.
As I said previously, and the Times Colonist elaborated today, Hertel did rather well hiding out in Venezuela. But the T-C neglected to mention what Hertel has been up to lately, and exactly why the RCMP nabbed him last week.
Early in 2007, I started corresponding with a man in Germany who saw my blog and wanted more information about Hertel’s time in Victoria. As he told me, he knows people who invested heavily with Hertel in the 1990s, and have been tied up in litigation ever since. In response, he has continued to provide me with details about Hertel’s recent activities in Europe.
Hertel has been returning to Germany regularly since 1994 to raise money for various schemes, especially a “hybrid” method of drilling for oil that simultaneously taps geothermal energy to power the wells. In 2004, Hertel registered a UK company, IEC Europetrol, with a head office in London – a city he apparently visited regularly.
Currently, Hertel is principally operating as IEC International Energy Corporation, with offices in Phoenix and the British Virgin Islands. (His company names may change, but Hertel keeps using the old Data 70 IEC logo he slapped 25 years ago on his Carey Road office building, photo above right.) Last December, IEC signed a deal with the government of Albania, using Hertel’s hybrid technology on that country’s Visoka oil field. Here’s a video of Hertel making the announcement, and promising to bring Albania a green energy “revolution”:
Will his investors be satisfied? The Visoka field has been online for 36 years, and produces just 240 barrels a day. But that may have been enough for rivals to notify the RCMP about exactly when Hertel was flying into London: according to a comment by “mmeier” from Hamburg to CBC’s online version of the story, the Mounties acted this month only because they “got a tip off by people who wants to stop the IEC making business with Russia and Albania”. Stay tuned for more details.
UPDATE (May 20, 2009): Hertel remains in custody in the UK because he can’t come up with £500,000 for bail, the T-C reports today. His next court appearance is Friday, May 22.
UPDATE (September 21, 2010): Hertel is out of jail. According to this item in today’s T-C, a London court ruled that Hertel could not be extradited to Canada, because prosecutors failed to prove that his alleged actions would have been an offence in the UK. His lawyer says Hertel will remain in the UK until it’s clear whether or not Canada will appeal the verdict.