Cobell Lawsuit & Settlement | Politics

Lawmakers question delay in payments from Cobell settlement





Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) and Sen. John Walsh (D-Montana) want to know why payments from the $3.4 billion Cobell settlement haven't been distributed.

Checks were anticipated before Christmas in 2013. But that didn't happen and the Garden City Group, the administrator of the settlement, promised payments in early 2014.

Four months into the year, Indian beneficiaries have yet to see their money. Tester and Walsh blame the delay on the Garden City Group.

"Garden City Group has stated that payments will be made 'sometime' in 2014, which does not provide enough clarity or assurance that these payments will be made in a timely manner," Tester and Walsh said in a letter to company executive Jennifer Keough. "This delay is placing a financial burden on Montana families, and forcing many who are expecting payments to take out loans that they are now unable to repay."

The payment covers the Trust Administration Class of the settlement. The minimum will be $800 but many people will receive more, based on the level of activity in their Individual Indian Money (IIM) account.

The first payment, for the Historical Accounting Class, went out in December 2012. It was for $1,000.

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