By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Staff Writer RAPID CITY — The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation issued a warning to potential customers of Free Lakota Bank. The bank which claims to be operating on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation has no actual physical presence in the village of Pine Ridge. Native Sun News attempted to contact Free Lakota Bank but was only able to locate PO Box # for the company that listed its address as being in the town of Pine Ridge, SD. “We don’t have any reason to believe that there’s anything illegal or unethical going on here. It just raises some red flags that there’s a chance of that and there’s no way to verify that— whether it’s operating in a safe and sound matter or not,” said State Division of Banking Director Bret Afdahl. According to the Free Lakota Bank’s website the bank deposits a customer’s money and then converts the funds to silver bullion. In turn the bank pays the customer an interest rate in silver when the money is withdrawn from the bank. The Department of Labor and Regulations stated that because there is absolutely no way for them to investigate the bank customers should proceed with caution prior to investing with the bank. The Oglala Sioux tribe stated publicly that the bank is not licensed to operate within the sovereign boundaries of the Oglala Lakota nation and is not connected with them in any way. In response to the press release from the state Department of Labor and Regulation, Free Lakota bank posted on their website a response citing a healthy relationship with the community on the reservation. “The Free Lakota Bank enjoys a healthy relationship with its friends and our on-going investment in the Pine Ridge community including the new store beginning construction on the reservation next month. We look forward to the launch of a new sustainability project with community leaders soon to be announced.” (Contact Brandon Ecoffey at firstname.lastname@example.org) Copyright permission by Native Sun News.
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