By John Lee.
Todd Kozel (pictured), Gulf Keystone's Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, should not be considered a credible witness, a lawyer for Excalibur Ventures said at the opening day of a trial in London.
Excalibur is suing the oil explorer for a 30 percent stake of the assets under a collaboration agreement, which according to some estimates may be worth about $1.6 billion.
Rex Wempen, a former captain in the U.S. Army Special Forces and owner of Excalibur, said he introduced Kozel to opportunities in Iraq’s Kurdistan region in 2005, and used his contacts to help win oil-exploration rights from the government.
Wempen said in court documents that a collaboration agreement signed by Kozel’s Texas Keystone Inc. gives Wempen a 30 percent share of the Shaikan concession, and Gulf Keystone was an agent of Texas Keystone.
According to a report from Bloomberg, Wempen, a founding member of the U.S.- Kurdistan Business Council, trekked across the Turkish border into Iraq during the second Gulf war, and stayed there for more than a year, eventually meeting the Kurdish prime minister at his palace.
Wempen’s work in dangerous conditions "resulted in the vast riches now enjoyed by Gulf and indeed, by Mr. Kozel personally", his laywer said, but Wempen’s Excalibur Ventures LLC "was then cut out of the deal completely".