The Łutsel K'e Dene First Nation in N.W.T. is accusing the now-suspended CEO of its economic arm of not only using his position and authority to steal millions, but also to get himself a house in Yellowknife.
The lawsuit, filed in April, alleges that Ron Barlas, Denesoline's former CEO, and his wife Zeba Barlas used "diverted funds for their own personal ends and to support a lavish lifestyle," including owning and leasing multiple homes and properties.
Ron Barlas denies any wrongdoing and applied for the lawsuit to be dismissed in an affidavit filed in early September.
None of the allegations in the First Nation's lawsuit have been tested in court.
Although he disputes the First Nation's allegations, Barlas admits in his affidavit that a house was provided to him and his family as part of his employment contract. He also acknowledges that his wife then purchased that same house from the company.
But Barlas writes that by doing so, the couple saved Denesoline "approximately $200,000 for the remaining years they would've had to rent the house in Yellowknife" for his use.
How the house was purchased
Barlas writes that as part of his employment contract signed in 2014, he was granted "exclusive use of the fully paid Denesoline corporate suite in Yellowknife."
Around 2015, a house in the Niven Lake area of Yellowknife — a high-end residential neighbourhood — was purchased by the Lutsel K'e real estate holding company, Ta'egera Company Ltd.
According to the N.W.T.'s corporate registry, on June 1, 2020, Barlas was officially listed as a director of the Ta'egera Company Ltd. He was one of two directors listed as of that date.
Around a month later, the house in Niven was sold by Ta'egera Company Ltd. to a company called Equipment North, owned by Barlas's wife, Zeba Barlas.
According to the land title, Zeba Barlas then purchased the home from her company Equipment North in March 2021.
The land title values the home at about $760,000.
Equipment North is also named in the Lutsel K'e lawsuit along with another company owned by Zeba, called NCG.
Zeba Barlas also owns the property that Denesoline and other Lutsel K'e businesses use. Zeba rents the space to Denesoline for $15,000 a month, however as Zeba is named in the lawsuit, rent payments are being held in trust "pending further direction from the court."
The lawsuit also alleges Ron Barlas used misappropriated funds to purchase several pre-fabricated buildings, including one to be made into a personal gym, as a well as a "man cave" that includes a bar, ice maker, juke box, arcade games, neon signs, toy soldiers and other paraphernalia.
Ron Barlas writes in his affidavit that he has been transparent in his role and that his lifestyle was earned from his hard work.
CBC News contacted Ron and Zeba Barlas but didn't receive a response.
Ron Barlas is scheduled to appear in Yellowknife Supreme Court on Wednesday.