A high-profile candidate for chief of the Lil'wat Nation is facing a lawsuit from the very band he wants to run.
The Mount Currie band of the Lil'wat Nation is suing Lyle Leo, a former lead negotiator and councillor, for accepting $95,000 from a logging company.
A statement of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court alleges that between January 2006 and October 2007, Leo took $5,000 a month from Delta Lands Development Ltd. and the Delta Group of companies as they sought to build a residential and commercial development in the Soo Valley.
The money, the band is alleging, was paid through CRB Logging, a company that does logging and forestry management around Squamish and Pemberton.
The claim says that Leo took these payments in secret and without the band's knowledge. It's alleged that he took the money so that both he and the band would support the project. It goes on to say that the money came in exchange for "confidential information and advice" to help Delta Lands in its negotiations with the band.
"Delta Lands paid the funds out of a belief that if they did not pay these funds as directed by Lyle Leo they would not get a contract with the band for the Soo Valley project," the claim reads.
CRB Logging, the band alleges, was used as a "go-between" for payments to Leo in order to disguise the purpose of the payments. It's believed that Leo picked up the cheques personally from Delta Lands, but the cheques listed CRB as the receiver.
Between January 2006 and August 2007 the payments were being made through CRB, and in September and October 2007 they were made to T'musta7 Aboriginal Consulting Services, a company that Leo runs himself, according to the statement.
The address for T'musta7 is listed as Lot 141 Rancheree Street, I.R. #8 in Mount Currie, just north of Pemberton, on Leo's business card. There is nothing at this address but a vacant lot, according to the band.
Among other things, the Mount Currie band is now asking for an accounting of the $95,000 it alleges Leo received; the return of $200,000 paid to him under a 2006 contract with the band; damages for breach of contract, or breach of loyalty and fiduciary duty; and general damages, or an accounting for the funds received without knowledge and consent of the band starting in 2006.
CRB Logging is named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit. The band is asking them for an accounting for funds received from Delta Lands and an accounting of funds received from other parties for Leo's services. It also seeks damages for funds "wrongfully paid out" to Leo during his contract with the band.
Gregory McDade, a Vancouver-based lawyer for the Mount Currie band, declined to offer any comment.
"I'm not at liberty to make any statements on this case," he said.
Leo could not be reached on his cell phone, nor could Lil'wat Chief Leonard Andrew, who along with Mount Currie council authorized the legal action.
The two are now running against each other for Chief of the Mount Currie Band. Pique could not confirm by press time whether Leo is still a candidate.