Business | Law

Osage Nation hails federal complaint in misappropriation case

Geoffrey M. Standing Bear serves as principal chief of the Osage Nation. Photo: Osage Nation

The Osage Nation is feeling vindicated after a federal agency filed charges against former advisers accused of cheating the tribe out of at least $1 million.

The tribe sued Christopher K. Schrichte and Howard C. Hill, along with former employees and other associates, in Oklahoma court back in 2015. The complaint accuses the defendants of misleading the tribe about various investments, The Osage News reported at the time.

Now the Securities and Exchange Commission is on the case. Armed with evidence provided by the tribe, the agency filed a lawsuit against Schrichte and Hill that follows many of the allegations raised in the state case.

“It is not an every-day occurrence that a federal agency investigates and prosecutes complex securities fraud reported by a Native American tribe, or that the tribe itself would identify and prosecute the wrongdoers in the first instance,” Amanda Proctor, an attorney who has been hired by the tribe to pursue the matter, said in an Osage Nation press release on Monday.

Both cases are linked to the Osage Limited Liability Company, the tribe's former economic development arm. The tribe has accused the former CEO and other associates of misappropriating millions of dollars since 2008.

According to the tribe's legal team, upwards of $18 million has been lost in various investment schemes over the years. The lawsuit and the SEC complaint, though, only addresses about $1 million in misappropriated funds.

"Over a seven year period, beginning in 2007, Messrs. Schriechte and Hill used their control to take about $955,000 in loans from the fund," the SEC Actions blog said in a summary of the SEC case. "The loans were interest free and did not have a corporate purpose. To the contrary, the money was diverted to their personal use."

Addressing Osage LLC's financial dealings has been a top priority of Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear, who took office in 2014 after he helped impeach his predecessor. During his tenure in the Osage Congress, he looked into the firm's activities.

The tribe has since launched Tallgrass to pursue economic development opportunities.