Nova Scotia

Sipekne'katik Band frustrated over RCMP missing funds probe

There’s frustration at the Sipekne’katik Band over an RCMP investigation into missing funds.

'If people are guilty, let them be charged and found guilty. If they're innocent, let them be innocent'

Band leaders want to know how police are following up on a 15,000-page forensic audit they provided over 16 months ago. (CBC)

There's frustration at the Sipekne'katik Band over an RCMP investigation into missing funds.

Band leaders want to know how police are following up on a 15,000-page forensic audit they provided over 16 months ago.

The audit identified $790,000 that went missing from band coffers between 2009 and 2012.

It was completed in October of 2013 by the accounting firm MNP on behalf of the Sipekne'katik Band.

Councillors voted to hand it over it to the RCMP in February of 2014.

Chief Rufus Copage said he's tired of waiting.

"If people are guilty, let them be charged and found guilty. If they're innocent, let them be innocent. But let's get it over with. Basically, I just want to see it come to an end," he said.

Ron Pink is the lawyer for the Sipekne'katik Bank.

He believes the forensic audit could trigger a range of charges.

"We had it reviewed by a number of criminal lawyers who thought that there was grounds for prosecution here," he said.

"The RCMP can have a different view, they didn't believe so. So now it's all dead in the water."

Double standard for native people who commit crimes?

Sipekne'katik band councillor Alex MacDonald said he's frustrated by what he sees as a lack of action.

"There's lots of information there that warrants charges. And the RCMP seem to be slack on it due to the fact it's Indian business," he said.

MacDonald thinks that there's a double standard in Canada when it comes to pursuing corruption in First Nations communities.

"There's no public outcry. Yet when Duffy and everybody else, all the non-Native politicians are out there ripping off, there's public outcry," he said.

Pink said he can't tell what the RCMP are doing to advance the case.

"There's been no evidence they've done anything as far as I can see, except review the file, apparently. But that's it," he said.

Two people were charged in relation to missing funds at the Sipekne'katik Band in February of 2013.

Former councillor Michael Patrick Sack was charged with possession of stolen property and lying under oath. Those charges were withdrawn earlier this year following adult diversion process.

Former band financial manager Jeffrey Cecil Hayes is facing a trial on charges of theft, fraud, breach of trust and possession of stolen property.

He'll be in Nova Scotia Supreme court Sept. 10 to choose a date for trial.

RCMP spokesperson Const. Mark Skinner said that because this matter is before the courts, he cannot comment in detail.

"The RCMP did lay a number of charges in relation to the audit investigation. The decision to lay charges is based on the evidence available, and did not support the laying of additional charges at the time," he said.

Skinner adds the investigation is still open, and new charges may still arise.

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