The Canadian government has hired an external firm to investigate how public money is spent in an Atikamekw community in northern Quebec, according to Radio-Canada.

obedjiwan

A civil servant from Ottawa and an accountant are investigating the way Obedjiwan's band council has been spending cash on 300 housing units, a local sawmill, a grocery store and a gas station.

"I'm not surprised," said Christian Awashish, the band council chief. "We've had our share of complaints at council."

People in the Atikamekw community have been complaining about a lack of transparency since the provincial police launched a similar investigation in 2009.

The investigation led to accusations of fraud against a former member of the band council.

In the spring of 2011, about 200 people signed a petition asking for better management of the public purse.

Some people said they support the idea of an external audit.

Canada's Indian affairs ministry told Radio-Canada the investigation could lead to criminal charges if any wrongdoing is proven.