The RCMP is reviewing a large volume of confidential financial documents belonging to Peters First Nation after several members of the British Columbia reserve filed a complaint against the band council, APTN National News has learned.
Two officers have been assigned to the file, including an officer that has worked on financial crimes investigations, out of Chilliwack, B.C.
APTN was told the complaint was made in March against the chief, a current councillor and a former councillor after APTN’s first story in February on Peters regarding membership issues.
The Mounties received more information after an APTN investigation into finances of the reserve last month.
That story focused on a two-year period from 2013-15 based on court documents, audits, emails and financial ledgers for those years.
The Mounties have been given ledgers dating back to 2011 and other documents, like band council resolutions, dating back a decade.
APTN’s investigation uncovered questionable payments and outlined how Peters First Nation’s three-member band council were allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars over a two-year period to operate a band with 12 homes on 131 hectares and little infrastructure located between Hope and Chilliwack.
The money was much more than what band council claimed to Indigenous Affairs from 2013 to 2015 according to the First Nations Transparency Act.
The story also showed how money was allocated to members who are known to vote for council every two years. A closer look at the finances over those years indicated that over 90 per cent of all expenditures to band members went to those who voted for council.
Documents show questionable payments not only to the children of council but one of their mothers received tens of thousands in social assistance and allegedly didn’t qualify, while one councillor had over 10 jobs.
A 2015 audit uncovered that the band kept little paper trail of supporting documents for social assistance, and council members were signing cheques over to themselves, all of which the auditor said opened the band to the potential for “inappropriate payments”.
Indigenous Affairs approved the audit without question and also released funding for one program without any details on how it would be spent.
APTN has asked the RCMP for comment, as well as Peters band council but has not received a response from either.
APTN’s full investigation can be found here.