Attawapiskat First Nation promises it will co-operate "in any and all ways possible" after former co-manager Clayton Kennedy was charged with theft and fraud.
Kennedy, 62, was co-manager of the band's finances between July 2010 and the end of the summer of 2012. He's also the partner of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence.
He refused to comment on the charges when contacted Tuesday morning at the offices of the Taykwa Tagamou Nation in Cochrane, Ont., where he is currently the co-manager.
"It's in my attorney's hands," Kennedy told QMI Agency, saying his side will "come out in our day in court."
The Nishnawbe-Aski Police charged Kennedy with fraud over $5,000 and theft over $5,000 on March 26.
He is scheduled to appear in court May 28.
Financial audits released in January 2013 show he and Spence made as much as $250,000. Kennedy's consulting company, Moo Shum Enterprises Inc., charged $850 per day while he was co-managing, working out to $221,000 a year.
Attawapiskat has been working with a co-manager for more than a decade.
In a statement Tuesday, the band council called the charges a "very serious matter," and promised full co-operation as they proceed through the courts.
"Council's obligations are clear: it is committed to the effective and transparent management of all funds entrusted to it for the use and benefit of Attawapiskat's members and community," the band said in its statement. "Council will continue to co-operate fully with the legal process."
In 2011, the long-embattled reserve on the shores of James Bay in northern Ontario made headlines during a housing crisis that saw residents living in trailers, sheds and shacks without proper plumbing or running water. As the federal government and private donors hustled to ship in housing materials, discrepancies in the band's books caused controversy.
The federal government said the reserve received $90 million in federal funding between April 1, 2005, and Nov. 30, 2011. An audit by accounting firm Deloitte and Touche in 2012 showed that during that time there were 505 questionable transactions — more than 60% had no documentation to show the reason for the payment.
"We were unable to determine if the funds were spent for their intended purpose," the audit said.
In a statement Tuesday, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt's office said it was unable to comment because the case is before the courts.
"We're committed to protecting all Canadians from those who engage in abuses of trust," the statement reads. "Those who break the rules must suffer the consequences."
The band council on the reserve also said it's a "trying time" for Spence and Kennedy's family, and that Spence would not be commenting on the case.
"Spence has recused herself from any involvement or discussion of this issue whatsoever," the statement reads.