Feds allege misspending at Manitoba tribal organization

APTN National News
A federal government audit of a Manitoba tribal council’s books allegedly uncovered more than $260,000 in “inappropriate or questionable” payments to the two former grand chiefs and staff member during their time in office, according to Aboriginal Affairs.

In a letter dated July 25, addressed to current Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO) Grand Chief Terrence Nelson, obtained by APTN National News, Aboriginal Affairs said they conducted an investigation into the payments made to the SCO’s former grand chiefs Morris Shannacappo, Murray Clearsky and his chief of staff Michael Bear between the fiscal years 2010 to 2013.

Nelson was elected in January and after the allegations. The letters says if the SCO can’t provide proof the payments were legit by Friday the feds will expect the money to be repaid.

Nelson told APTN some of the payments can be explained and he’s been in contact with Aboriginal Affairs.

“We cooperated completely with the forensic auditors. The complaint came in from staff originally a while back and the chiefs acted on it. The chiefs were the ones who removed the former grand chief,” said Nelson. “This is not a court of law. If there is criminal activity, obviously that will be forwarded to the RCMP. The chiefs are very clear nothing will be covered up.”

Auditors dug through SCO’s books for three weeks, said Nelson.

According to the letter, auditors allege Clearsky used an unauthorized debit card, connected to SCO’s bank account, for nearly $28,000 in purchases and cash withdrawals between July and September 2013 for a treaty awareness event.

Other allegations include alleged improper pay increases, travel expenses, healing lodge expenses and purchase of a vehicle by Shannacappo.

“The car was never paid for by SCO funds,” said Nelson, who added he’s responded to the feds and the process of finding out exactly what is owed in continuing.

For the complete list of the allegations read the letter here.

Nelson said he’s just begun to reach out to Clearsky and Bear for their side of things.

The SCO chiefs ousted Clearsky last October when the allegations surfaced.

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