A group of concerned band members wants more than $1 million in unexplained payments returned to Alexander First Nation coffers.
Ernie Bruno, Barbara Bairnes and Leslie Arcand are taking a former Alexander First Nation chief and the current tribal administrator to court in relation to $1.2 million in unexplained payments identified in an August forensic audit report.
The report, prepared by Meyers Norris Penny (MNP), showed almost $2.2 million in unexplained payments to eight employees of the Alexander First Nation between 2013 and 2015. More than half of these payments were made to former chief Herbert Arcand and current tribal administrator Alphonse Arcand.
The forensic audit identifies over $405,000 in unexplained payments to former chief Herbert Arcand, including $113,653 worth of cash advances on his band credit card – made mostly at casinos. Another $638,0000 of unexplained payments were made out to current tribal administrator Alphonse Arcand.
Herb Arcand and Alphonse Arcand could not be reached for comment. In September, Alphonse Arcand told the Gazette that the documents provided to MNP were “incomplete, reckless and out of context.”
The statement of claim, filed in December 2016, claims that the “wrongfully converted” band funds have created a loss of income, loss of economic stability and loss of economic opportunity for the first nation community.
The applicants want to see the amounts identified by MNP paid back in full to the band.
The lawsuit also names Coun. Allan Paul as a defendant in relation to a conflict of interest. It claims that Paul abused his position as councillor to promote his company and negotiate contracts that were favourable to PISM Contracting Ltd., where Paul served as director and shareholder until May 3, 2016. Paul was not named in the forensic audit.
The statement of claim contains unproven allegations that have not been tested in court. A statement of defence has not yet been filed.
A criminal complaint was made to the RCMP regarding the alleged misappropriation of funds by the seven former and one current Alexander First Nation employees.