PIB sues former councillors

Turmoil within the Penticton Indian Band leadership has spilled into the courts.

The band has filed a lawsuit against former Chief Jonathan Kruger and five former council members for allegedly blocking the band’s ability to operate the six companies under the Penticton Indian Band Development Corporation umbrella.

As a result, the band claims it is at risk of losing multiple business deals, including breaching an agreement related to the Nissan car dealership under construction on PIB land.

Historically, the PIB companies have been managed by splitting 18 shares evenly among the nine elected council members. Then on each election, a resolution is passed directing the outgoing council members to transfer their shares to the new council.

But on June 23, the lawsuit states that council passed a resolution to transfer all their shares to Chief Chad Eneas.

“The idea was that this would provide the current council with proper time to consult with the band membership to determine whether a new shareholder structure could be established,” the lawsuit reads.

The civil claim states Timmothy Lezard, Inez Pierre (who was not re-elected) and Clinton John George transferred their shares.

However, it alleges Jonathan Kruger, Joseph Pierre, Clint Gabriel, Travis Kruger and Dolly Kruger have refused to do so. Of that group, only Jonathon Kruger and Joseph Pierre were re-elected in Nov. 2016, but both have since resigned.

“In failing to transfer their shares to Chief Chad Eneas… the PIB has and will continue to suffer loss and damages that will arise as a result of the inability of the current councils to properly make decisions and operate the PIB,” the claim states.

The lawsuit states there is currently no director of the PIB Development Corp., and one can only be appointed by the shareholders. Without a director, the PIB cannot appoint new signing authorities for its companies.

“Without signing authorities, it is impossible to operate the daily business of PIBDC and the PIB companies,” the lawsuit says.

In particular, Westhills Aggregates is required to provide a water connection to the Nissan dealership currently being built on PIB lands, but due to having no signing authority, Westhills operations “are at a standstill.”

The lawsuit seeks to order the five former council members to hand over their shares to Chief Chad Eneas, as well as damages for breach of trust.

Lawsuit defendant Dolly Kruger has been acting a spokesperson for an insurgent group within the PIB, demanding a new election for Chief and council be called.

The defendants have not filed a response in court.

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