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Leo wants lawsuit dropped

Former chief negotiator files statement of defence

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The Mount Currie Band's former chief negotiator is demanding that the band's lawsuit against him be dropped, he said in a statement of defence filed March 20.

Lyle Leo, an unsuccessful candidate for chief in the band's election last month, said in a brief statement that he denies all charges being made against him and that he wants the band to drop its lawsuit.

The statement comes almost a month after the Mount Currie Band filed a revised statement of claim in B.C. Supreme Court, charging that Leo took over half a million dollars in "secret profits" from a developer.

Gregory McDade, the lawyer for the band, said that the statement amounts to a "pro forma statement of defence," one that's filed for the express purpose of being able to say you filed one. He also said that, thus far, the band isn't dropping its lawsuit.

"The band is proceeding with the litigation," he said.

The lawsuit was initially filed on Feb. 4 - just six days into an election in which Leo took on incumbent Chief Leonard Andrew for leadership of the Lil'wat Nation. It originally charged that Leo had taken $95,000 in "bribes" from Delta Lands Corporation, which was pushing a residential and commercial development in the Lower Soo Valley.

The Mount Currie Band alleged in a statement of claim that Leo was taking money at a rate of $5,000 a month and that he was using CRB Logging, a forestry company based in the Sea to Sky corridor, as a "go between" for the payments. CRB Logging is a co-defendant in the lawsuit.

That was later revised to say he had taken a total of $550,335 in 50 payments from CRB Logging. One of those payments totaled $204,711.48, according to the band, which also said that it came as a "secret commission" for profits taken by that business after it built a road in the Callaghan Valley.

Leo went on to lose the election, polling half as many votes as Andrew.

The lawsuit and the election came after Leo worked for the band for 13 years, first serving as manager of its health and social development department in 1996 and later becoming chief negotiator, a position in which he pursued economic opportunities for the band.

One of those opportunities came through the 2010 Olympics, for which he served on the bid corporation and helped negotiate the "Shared Legacies Agreement" that saw 300 acres of land transferred to the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations for economic development. That agreement also included $3 million being paid towards construction of the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre.

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