Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada launched an audit of the Southern Chiefs' Organization's finances last fall after the ouster of grand chief Murray Clearsky. In a letter to the SCO dated July 25, auditors laid out their preliminary findings, detailing $261,587 in "inappropriate or questionable" transactions. The auditors were seeking to verify facts and asked SCO for any additional documentation that could explain the improper transactions. Those transactions included:
$32,372, debit card -- Between July and September, auditors said Clearsky made "unsupported" purchases and cash withdrawals from the SCO's account using a debit card. Much of the money was spent during the treaty rights caravan to Alberta and a trip to Minneapolis. Clearsky said several others also had access to the debit card but have so far not been singled out.
$9,570, retroactive pay increase -- Clearsky and chief of staff Mike Bear misrepresented the effective date of Clearsky's pay increase and obtained a retroactive payment to which the chief was not entitled.
$3,530, prepaid credit card -- The SCO gave Bear a prepaid credit card when he and Clearsky travelled to Toronto for a national meeting. Both had already received travel advances for the trip. Bear did not submit receipts for purchases made on the prepaid credit card.
$53,328, traditional-healing expenditures -- Traditional healing is not an employee benefit offered by SCO or funded by the federal government but SCO paid healers to help staff and former grand chiefs.
$4,975, payroll advances -- When Clearsky and Bear were terminated in October, pay advances had not been recouped.
$5,653, vacation pay -- Clearsky and Bear were paid for vacation time to which they were not entitled.
$27,510, travel claims -- Trips outside Canada must be approved by the SCO's finance committee. Clearsky travelled to Las Vegas and Minneapolis without proper approval and Bear made similar claims. Bear also made claims for travel that did not occur, as evidenced by cellphone records. A travel company was paid to book trips that were not authorized by the finance committee.
$25,911, purchase of a vehicle -- Auditors say federal money was used to buy a vehicle for former grand chief Morris Shannacappo but was never recorded as an SCO asset.
$1,748, car insurance -- SCO paid for Clearsky's personal car insurance.
$96,980, labour-relations payouts -- A series of harassment allegations and labour-relations issues, some involving Bear, resulted in huge payouts that could have been avoided with proper management oversight.