Press-Republican

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March 17, 2012

Verdant leaders named in lawsuit

â Company slated to fund Laurentian Aerospace accused of misappropriation of precious gems

PLATTSBURGH — Top officials of the company that is supposed to provide Laurentian Aerospace funding are among several defendants in a lawsuit filed recently in Texas.

According to the Courthouse News Service, Verdant Capital Group CEO Eric Jergensen and Board Chairman Joseph Homsy are among those named in a lawsuit filed by Lawrence Lester, an executive officer of Seattle-based Decagon Company Ltd.

The suit alleges they are among several parties involved in the misappropriation of five large mine-cut rubies worth an estimated $1.8 billion that are the historical property of the Buddhist people of Thailand.

Jergensen said Friday night that he couldn't comment on the suit, that he hadn't seen it yet.

Laurentian Aerospace Corporation Chief Financial Officer Andrew Edwards said it doesn't affect its financing deal with Verdant.

"The management of Laurentian have discussed the matter with Verdant, and based on the explanation that was provided to us, we're satisfied that this lawsuit should have no impact on the financing of our project whatsoever," he said.

"Verdant has continued to reaffirm their commitment to the Laurentian project, and they have indicated to us that they expect to be in a position to proceed with the finalization of the financing in the near future."

Jergensen said they are still working on the financing for the $175 million aircraft-repair-and-maintenance facility that would bring many jobs to the area.

"We're still very enthusiastic about the project," he said. "We think it would be great for Plattsburgh and for the entire region."

DECAGON HAD TITLE

The rubies were transferred to Lester in 2001 by a religious order in Bangkok, Thailand. The intention was to develop and secure funds for project developments in Thailand and the United States.

After several years, Lester informed the Thai officials he was unable to secure funds unless Decagon had official title to the gems.

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