Alexander First Nation band members sue leaders for alleged ‘illegal’ payments
Three band members are suing their former chief, a current councillor and an adminstrator
By Andrea Huncar, CBC News, January 13, 2017
Three band members of the Alexander First Nation northwest of Edmonton are suing their former chief, a current councillor and a band employee for alleged conflict of interest and “illegal and improper” financial dealings.
The allegations are made in a statement of claim filed at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmonton on Dec 21, 2016. Many of the allegations echo findings of a forensic accounting analysis released earlier this year, which cited “unexplained payments” involving two of the band leaders.
The audit, summarized in a powerpoint presentation leaked to CBC in September, identified more than $2 million in unexplained payments from 2013 to 2015, half of them to former chief Herbert Arcand and current tribal chief administrator Alphonse Arcand.
The lawsuit accuses them of “illegal and improper acts,” citing payments in excess of $400,000 for Herbert Arcand and $600,000 for Alphonse Arcand.
Herbert Arcand is accused in the lawsuit of using credit cards issued for band business to make cash advances at casinos and to pay for a family vacation at a Caribbean resort, allegations also contained in the audit conducted by accounting firm Meyers Norris Penny.
The statement of claim alleges Alphonse Arcand “wrote cheques to himself” from the accounts of Alexander First Nation “for his personal use and benefit.”
CBC News could not reach the Arcands for comment. But earlier this year, they denied the findings contained in the audit.
Band councillor Allan Paul is also named in the lawsuit. He is accused of “unlawful abuse of his position” in several ways.
Band members allege Paul used his title to negotiate contracts “unduly favourable” to his former company PISIM “that were not in the best interests of AFN’s (Alexander First Nation) business and economic affairs.”
They also accuse Paul of using his position to attempt to gain contracts and financial advantage as well as creating two “straw men” as shareholders and directors of his company “to create a veneer of propriety and independence.”
Paul could not be reached for comment.
CBC News could not confirm if a statement of defence has been filed. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
CBC’s story in September about the Alexander First Nation audit prompted band members with similar complaints from other reserves to speak out across the country.
One of the lawsuit complainants is Ernie Bruno, among the first to raise concerns publicly about the financial activities of the Alexander leadership.
Bruno said he had been fighting for improved financial transparency and accountability from the chief and council for 30 years, while fellow band members struggled with poverty and poor housing conditions.
In the lawsuit, Bruno and the two other plaintiffs, Leslie Arcand and Barbara Bairnes, allege the defendants’ actions have caused loss of income, economic stability and opportunity.
They are seeking more than $1 million in damages and an accounting of funds received by the defendants.
The claim says a criminal complaint was made to the RCMP in August regarding “illegal and improper acts.”
In other legal controversies affecting band leadership, current chief Kurt Burnstick on Wednesday was found not guilty of sexual assault. He will go to court on another charge of sexual assault later this year.
Posted on January 13, 2017, in Indian Act Indians and tagged Alexander First Nation, band council corruption, band councils, indian act band councils, Indian Act Indians. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.