Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation chief Terry nelson is in hot water, after an audit disclosed several financial irregularities, including a $2.1 million investment for his daughter's business, and spending Christmas bonuses on the band council. The audit, authorized by Indian and Northern Affairs at the request of the community's custom council, examined the band's finances for a seven-year period, from 2002/03 to 2008/09.
The auditor's assessment of the band's finances stated: "Poor management of funds and incomplete financial accounting; a number of unexplained anomalies." Some of the interesting findings of the audit (as reported by the Winnipeg Free Press) include:
- $2.1 million of the community's trust funds was invested in a private gas bar and VLT lounge, known as the Highway 6 project, owned by Terry Nelson's daughter.
- $250,000 was removed in 2005 from an account designated to finance an urban reserve in Winnipeg; the money was used to purchase Christmas gifts, cover the chief's travel expenses and provide $2,500 Christmas bonuses to the chief and council.
- The band ran a surplus between 2003 and 2005 when its finances were controlled by a federally appointed co-manager.
- The band accumulated a deficit of $1.5 million from 2006 to 2008, when managed by chief and council.
- $567,000 in loans/advances to six current and former employees that are not recorded in the financial statements as receivables.
- $191,000 provided by Ottawa to the band to restore the church and cemetery but the church has since been condemned and the cemetery has not been moved.
- The band's education account had surpluses for six of the seven years.
- Social assistance account is in a deficit position.
Does any of this really surprise us? Terry Nelson is the same guy who blames the "man" when he does not get what he wants. As reported earlier in the Purple Rod, he has also advocated blockades to secure outstanding grievances against the Government. Nelson's comment on the matter was not surprising.
"This audit is released seven days before an election," Nelson said. "Of course it was done to hurt me. I'm not an accountant, I'm the chief," Nelson said. "There's not enough time in the day for me to do everything that needs to be done."
This is the same guy who wants to establish an urban reserve on the old Kapoyng Barracks, perhaps the most sought after real estate in the City of Winnipeg. Good luck with that, Terry.