By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
Ron Evans, the former grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, received severance pay he wasn’t owed and the cheque used to give him the money did not have the proper authorization, according to allegations contained in an a document obtained by APTN National News.
Evans received $87,853 in severance in the summer of 2011 after he decided not to run again for grand chief of the AMC. While his severance was correctly calculated based on 36 weeks of his annual base salary of $126,900, he was not actually entitled to the money because he quit the grand chief’s post, according to a complaint filed by the AMC earlier this year with the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
The April 22 complaint, obtained by APTN National News, is actually focused on the activities of the AMC’s former director of finance who left his post on Sept. 7, 2011.
The complaint states that according to the AMC’s personnel policy manual and under the organization’s constitution severance is issued to grand chiefs who lose their job as a result of an election.
“In the event a grand chief resigns or is removed from office during a term, according to Article 14, Section 5 of the AMC Constitution, (the grand chief) will not be entitled to severance,” states the complaint, which was signed by Katherine Whitecloud, executive director of the AMC. “The reason (Evans) is no longer grand chief is because he decided not to run for re-election. He was therefore not entitled to a severance payment.”
Current AMC Grand Chief Derek Nepinak was elected to his post on July 27, 2011.
The AMC is one of the most powerful First Nations organizations in the country and represents the interests of a majority of Manitoba chiefs.
A spokeswoman for the AMC said the organization did not have any comment to offer at this time.
APTN could not reach Evans for comment. Evans is currently chief of Norway House.
The complaint also states that the cheque with Evans’ severance was authorized by someone who did not have the ability to sign off on such a large dollar amount.
“A review of the cheque requisition and cheque shows that the proper authorizations required by AMC…were not followed…proper authorizations were not obtained,” said the complaint.
Evans also obtained the severance pay while AMC was facing a major cash shortfall. The shortfall was papered over by a $295,000 transfer from an education fund. APTN National News reported Wednesday that the AMC, under Evans, shuffled over a million dollars between the education fund and the organization to cover salaries and operational costs in the space of three years.
The transactions may have put the education fund in jeopardy with the Canada Revenue Agency.
Between April 1, 2011, and July 31, 2011, which covered the final months Evans was in power, the AMC rang up a $311,345 operating deficit and maxed out its $900,000 line of credit with the Royal Bank. The bank approved a temporary 30 day increase to $1.2 million at the request of the AMC, according to the complaint.
The AMC then asked Aboriginal Affairs to advance the organization $300, 210 by the Aug 1 expiration date set by the bank. The department advanced the money, which was earmarked for the following year, according to the complaint and an internal financial report prepared by BDO Canada Financial Services.
In the previous 2010-2011 fiscal year, the AMC had annual revenues of about $10 million. The AMC’s salaries, wages and benefits totalled about $4.5 million that same year, absorbing about 47 per cent of the organization’s revenues.
The AMC’s annual funding from Aboriginal Affairs will soon be chopped down to $500,000, the federal government announced recently.