Walt Lamar: Tribes must do due diligence with business partners

"Who are you going to dance with? This question is easy to answer in high school, but in business, the answer can be surprisingly tricky. As tribes generate more revenue through gaming and economic development, the eager partners are lining up. Unfortunately, some of these suitors have nothing but ill intentions and are looking for ways to abscond with cash. They know tribes have little or no recourse.

When my father was tribal chairman we had folks of all sorts stopping by our home to pitch business ventures. He simply referred to them as the hucksters and explained it was sometimes difficult to discern the “wheat from the chaff,” who and what was real.

The government of the Navajo Nation is trying to decide how to prosecute a Colorado vendor who bilked them for over a million dollars. The tribe invested in Shiprock-based Biochemical Decontamination Systems Manufacturing Inc. and the CEO used the tribe’s investment money for his personal use. The federal government is suing the vendor for nearly half that amount, because of the falsified tax returns that masked the theft. If there is anything left, then the Navajo Nation will try to recover the crumbs. Jurisdictional complexities may render that effort futile."

Get the Story:
Walt Lamar: Navajos Deciding How to Prosecute Vendor Who Took $1M; Must Do Due Diligence (Indian Country Today 6/24)

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