Peter Mitchell, 14 January 2016

An alleged conman is locked up in a Montana jail accused of duping Australian oil and gas explorer Central Petroleum Ltd into hiring him as its chief executive and cheating the company out of more than $US567,000.

US prosecutors announced Dalton Hallgren, 45, was arrested in Germany on January 8 and extradited to Billings, Montana, to face five counts of wire fraud, two counts of criminal monetary transactions, and one count of aggravated identity theft.

He entered not guilty pleas to the charges during an appearance in the US federal court in Billings on Monday.

“From in or about November 2011 through in or about February 2013 the defendant, Dalton Allan Hallgren, in the district of Montana and elsewhere, devised and intended to devise a scheme to defraud and to obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretences, representations and promises,” the indictment states.

Hallgren falsely told Brisbane-headquartered, Australian Securities Exchange-listed Central Petroleum he had a bachelor of science degree in petroleum engineering from Montana Tech of the University of Montana before he was hired as chief executive and chief operating officer, according to prosecutors.

Hallgren also allegedly did not tell Central he owned Alpha Oilfield Services with the state of Montana.

In 2012, Hallgren had Alpha invoice Central to pay approximately $US567,302 for equipment that Alpha never provided.

“Dalton Allan Hallgren did not represent that he was owner of Alpha when Central paid the above-referenced monies to Alpha for Dalton Allan Hallgren’s financial benefit,” the indictment states.

Hallgren faces more than 20 years’ jail if convicted of the charges.

A trial has been scheduled for March 14 in Billings.

Extracted in full from The Australian.