Crow Indian leaders blamed US officials for “gross mismanagement” of tribal money after investigators said the Montana tribe could not account for almost US$13 million intended for improvements to water systems.
Crow chairman Alvin “A.J.” Not Afraid said in a statement on Thursday that he was working to change a system that allows federal and tribal officials to “squander” the tribe’s money.
“Program by program we are cleaning up decades of mismanagement between these governments,” Not Afraid said.
The statement also deflected some blame onto the US Bureau of Reclamation and a tribal subcontractor.
That conflicts with the findings of a US Department of the Interior inspector general’s audit released on Tuesday.
It said the tribe misused US$4.8 million and can not fully account for US$7.8 million paid to subcontractors and vendors.
The audit faulted the bureau for not watching the tribe closely enough and failing to ensure the US$4.8 million went into the proper account.
However, investigators did not accuse the bureau of mismanagement and most of their report addressed accounting problems within the tribe.
Bureau head of public affairs Theresa Eisenman said the agency was working to reconcile the accounting problems and adding financial controls to prevent a recurrence.
The money at issue was intended for upgrades to a water system under a US$460 million settlement reached in 2011 with the US government over the tribe’s historical water rights claims.
The tribe said it intends to repay any costs that are “inconsistent” with the water settlement.
The audit examined contracts dating back to October 2014, including more than two years during which the tribal government was led by former chairman Darrin Old Coyote.
Old Coyote has denied responsibility.
It was the third time in recent years the US government has raised questions about the tribe’s handling of money. Those cases involve a combined US$29 million, including the water funds and money for transportation projects.
Bureau spokesman Tyler Johnson said agency officials requested the audit after they had trouble verifying work and documentation on the water projects.
Johnson said the problems are not anticipated to delay the work, which is expected to be completed in about 2030.
A timeline provided by Johnson said that US$12.8 million transferred to the tribe was put into the wrong account in August last year.
Johnson said the tribe was notified within a day.
In September last year, the tribe moved US$8 million into the correct account, according to the agency timeline.
The remaining US$4.8 million went to “business expenses unrelated to the contracts,” according to investigators.
Tribal officials did not immediately respond to questions about those expenses and Johnson said the bureau has no way to know how the money was spent.
It was unclear what happened to the US$7.8 million distributed to subcontractors and vendors.
Federal officials are trying to determine whether those payments went toward appropriate project costs.
The tribe singled out one subcontractor — Bartlett & West — for alleged, unspecified “invoicing irregularities.”
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread
RISKY BUSINESS: The Chinese firm has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of 5G equipment not covered by US sanctions, but fears a wider ban could be announced in the UK Huawei Technologies Co believes it can supply 5G hardware unaffected by US sanctions to the UK for the next five years, sidestepping the expected conclusion of British emergency review on Tuesday. The company has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of kit, but fears a wider ban on its equipment is to be unveiled to placate rebel British Conservative Party lawmakers, who say that the Chinese supplier represents a national security risk. The British government on Friday said that it was “very likely” that British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden would make a statement to parliament on Tuesday