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Sqwa First Nation Statement on Former First Band Manager on Theft of Almost $230K

Sqwa First Nation – On Thursday September 21, according to their release, Sqwá First Nation Chief and Council and Chief Administrative Officer, Diane Janzen, are advising Band members, employees of Sqwá First Nation and the general public of the criminal conviction of former Band Manager, Danilo Tolentino Guanzon, for the theft of $294,978.92 from Sqwá First Nation. 

In addition, information is being provided to notify Band members and all concerned about the steps that have been taken moving forward. His conviction and sentencing occurred September 20, 2023, in a court proceeding at the Chilliwack Law Courts Building. Danilo Guanzon pleaded guilty to one count of fraud over $5,000 and one of theft over $5,000. The B.C. Provincial Judge Dannielle Dunn imposed a 2-year conditional sentence, ordered an apology to the Band and imposed a restitution order be put in place.  He will also face two years of probation after his conditional sentence is over.

Chief and Council acted quickly and immediately upon becoming aware of the financial improprieties of Mr. Guanzon, on February 8, 2019.  They terminated his employment, ordered a forensic audit from KPMG and moved forward with Crown Counsel on criminal charges. Chief and Council have put in place new financial procedures to protect the Band against fraudulent action and the new Chief Administrative Officer, Diane Janzen, is administering a disciplined and thorough financial system to ensure that funds are well managed and that there is accountability.  While there is a restitution order, it is important for Band members to understand that there is not a high likelihood of recuperating funds.  However, should there be future funds coming to Mr. Guanzon, they will be part of the restitution order.

Sqwá First Nation members have been provided updates in the last couple of years about the proceedings and this draws to a close a very unfortunate set of circumstances. The focus of Chief and Council, the CAO and the Band now is on moving forward with strong financial systems so that the members are provided with important services and that there is full accountability. 

Band members can reach out to Chief Lara Mussell or Diane Janzen, Chief Administrative Officer for more information.

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