The Mount Currie Band of the Lil'wat Nation has raised new allegations in its lawsuit against Lyle Leo, a former lead negotiator and current candidate for Chief.
The band filed an amended statement of claim in B.C. Supreme Court on Feb. 27. This time the band alleges that Leo has taken $550,335 from proponents of a development in the Soo Valley - not $95,000 as previously claimed.
But where the Band once said that these payments constituted a bribe, all references as such have now been changed to "secret profits" in the amended claim.
A community information sheet circulated by the Mount Currie Band council states that councillors made a "unanimous" decision to launch the suit against Leo and that the "secret profits" constituted a breach of trust in his work as the lead negotiator.
Leo, reached on Monday, hadn't yet seen the amended statement of claim and so couldn't comment on that specifically. He did, however, see the community information sheet and called it an "unsigned set of allegations."
"It's all about getting a pound of flesh out of Lyle Leo and trying to scare him off of running for chief of council," he said, channeling the money-lender Shylock in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice."
"This is not about me in a court case... I had several prominent community members two and a half months ago asking me to run for chief and then the court case came after that."
Leo also said that he's considering a defamation suit against three people within the band that he wouldn't identify. Those people, he said, held on to information about him so that they could conclude to do him harm.
Leo is alleged to have taken approximately 50 payments from CRB Logging Co. Ltd., a co-defendant in the suit that does logging and forestry management around Squamish and Pemberton. It's believed the money came to CRB from Delta Lands Corporation, which was pushing the development in the Soo Valley.
The payments, which are alleged to have come to him between Jan. 31, 2005 and Jan. 8 of this year, mostly ranged anywhere between $4,000 and $9,000, but a few payments stand out.
The band alleges that Leo was a "secret partner" in a business with Stephen Miles and L. Paul Turner, principals with CRB Logging, and that he received a payment of $204,711.48 from CRB as a "secret commission" for profits taken by that business for building a road in the Callaghan Valley.
The money, the statement alleges, was obtained on the Mount Currie Band's behalf, and the band further states that Leo took $66,400 in two payments relating to the same matter on July 16 and Sept. 3, 2008.
"We haven't agreed to any decisions out of court," he said. "We want to bring them to court and have my name cleared, otherwise we're looking at possibly charging those who have brought this forward to personally harm me with defamation and other charges."
If the lawsuit is launched over allegations made in the statement of claim, it probably won't go very far because plaintiffs enjoy privilege in such documents. Leo nevertheless feels he has a score to settle with a few people
Mount Currie band members go to the polls Saturday, March 7. Leo is one of six candidates for chief, and is arguably one of the most high-profile seeking that position. Other candidates include incumbent chief Leonard Andrew who, along with council, approved the lawsuit.
Members will be voting in accordance with a system set down by the federal Indian Act, which sets out a model in which band councils consist of a single chief and a maximum of 12 councillors.
Under the Act, the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs can vacate a seat on a band council when the person holding that office is found guilty, in connection with an election, of corrupt practice including accepting bribes, dishonesty or malfeasance.
A band election can also be set aside by the Governor General if the Minister feels that a nominee was ineligible to be a candidate in the ele