Shubenacadie Band forensic audit goes to RCMP
First Nation takes step to clean up corruption
The Shubenacadie Band has handed a forensic financial audit to the RCMP as part of an effort to get rid of corruption in the Nova Scotia community.
About $800,000 went missing under a previous administration that brought widespread financial mismanagement and bad government to the First Nation community.
Police have charged a councillor and the former financial manager of the band with fraud and related offences as a result of a previous investigation.
The details of the forensic audit are not yet public.
Chief Rufus Copage said the matter is beyond the band now.
“The file is handed over to the RCMP. Basically, let them do their job,” he said Monday. “This way there is no political interference.”
Band members heard a summary of the audit in October.
The band's records were in disarray, with missing invoices, minutes, and band council resolutions.
$800K went missing
Auditors found nearly $800,000 in questionable payments made to a councillor and the band's former financial manager.
They also discovered a series of short-term loans from a band member at interest rates of more than 100 per cent, costing the band hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest.
“If someone’s stolen from us, then I expect them to be charged,” Copage said. “It’s not like I’m glad people [might] be charged. I wish it had never happened."
The chief said the root of all those problems was a lack of proper oversight.
If someone's stolen from us, then I expect them to be charged.- Chief Rufus Copage
“Shame on us as the chief and council, whoever’s been in for the last number of years. You can’t blame this one or that one because almost anyone of us … are responsible. We let this happen,” he said. “If we'd had more safety checks in place, we probably wouldn’t have had this going on.”
In the previous investigation, former financial manager Jeffrey Cecil Hayes, 48, was charged with breach of trust, theft and fraud over $5,000. Prosecutors allege as much as $170,000 was siphoned away from band coffers and that the victim of that fraud is the Shubenacadie First Nation.
Councillor Michael Patrick Sack, 31, owns a luxury house just off the Herring Cove Road in Halifax that is at the centre of six charges involving perjury and proceeds of crime.
The auditors MNP helped create a plan to strengthen the financial structure of the Shubenacadie Band, including its tobacco, fisheries and gaming divisions.
Copage said many of those changes have already been adopted. The band has a chief and council code of conduct, as well as written policies on most financial matters.
The changes have made the band more transparent, he said.