Robert Barron Citizen
The business arm of the Malahat Nation is undergoing significant restructuring.
Malahat Chief Caroline Harry and her council have dismissed Lawrence Lewis, the CEO of the Malahat Investment Corporation, chief legal officer Nicole Hajash and chief financial officer Marguerite Briglio, effective immediately.
The corporation’s trustees — Mike Hansen, Mike Green and Penny Lehan — have also been released from their duties.
Alan Lolacher has been chosen as a new trustee for MICO, and two more trustees are expected to be chosen in the near future.
Richard Margetts, from the Victoria-based law firm Johns, Southward, Glazier, Walton & Margetts, said the move is “obviously related” to the resignation of former Malahat Nation Chief Michael Harry in August, but the two issues are “different situations.”
Harry resigned in August amid allegations that he was receiving a consulting fee from the owners of a controversial contaminated soil treatment facility in Shawnigan Lake.
“General business concerns around the operations of MICO, particularly regarding the Malahat LNG project [proposed for the former Bamberton site south of Mill Bay] are the main reasons for these changes, but I can’t discuss exactly what they are at this time,” Margetts said.
“We’re still in the process of completing our review of the Malahat Nation’s finances and administration, and more information may be available then.”
Margetts said MICO’s executives will be replaced at a later date, but the new trustees will be expected to run the operation on an interim basis.
The Malahat Nation also replaced its executive leadership team in January, and it is now led by CEO Renee Racette.
That decision was made to “ensure proper governance and stewardship of the nation’s administration,” according to a press release.
Following its election in November, the new band council, now led by Caroline Harry, decided to hire Margetts’ law firm to conduct a review of the governance and finances of both the First Nation and MICO, as well as the actions of the previous chief and council.
Malahat Councillor George Harry said the nation’s main business partners “fully support” the initiatives to change the executive leadership of the band and MICO.
“As our nation’s elected chief and council, we are committed to upholding our [nation’s] policies, laws, regulations, financial laws and codes,” he said.
“As we continue on our path towards economic self determination, that includes ensuring the separation of politics and business. We welcome our new trustees of MICO and look forward to their stewardship moving forward.”