Peter Kirby has been accused of embezzling $540,000 from the Taku River Tlingit corporations he controlled before abruptly resigning last year.
Kirby is the former director, CEO and president of Atlin LP and Xeitl LP. Both businesses are controlled by the Taku River Tlingit First Nation and have one board of directors. They primarily conduct business in the region of Atlin, British Columbia.
Kirby, who is a Taku River Tlingit citizen, made his last public appearance in the Yukon last spring, when the First Nation’s proposed Atlin hydro expansion project won a combined pledge of $82.2 million from the Yukon and federal governments.
The hydro project will expand on the Pine Creek plant, which has powered Atlin since 2009 and catapulted Kirby to national renown in the clean energy world. Kirby had worked for the group of companies since 1998.
The Taku River Tlingit First Nation filed a lawsuit against Kirby with the B.C. Supreme Court on Jan. 24.
The lawsuit alleges that Kirby transferred funds to his personal bank account in four separate transactions last summer.
It claims that Kirby transferred $500,000 from Xeitlto Atlin LP’s bank account on Aug. 22.
“[The] transfer was outside of the ordinary course of business, and there was no legitimate reason for it,” reads the lawsuit.
It’s alleged that Kirby then deposited a cheque for $516,419 from Atlin LP into his personal bank account on Aug. 29. That same week, he additionally transferred to himself $5,064 and $17,500 on Aug. 22 and 29, respectively.
Kirby also made an earlier transfer of $1,265 to his personal account on July 16, the First Nation says.
The lawsuit says Kirby didn’t disclose those payments to the board nor the First Nation.
On Aug. 29 and 30, Kirby abruptly resigned from his posts of chief executive officer, director and president after 18 years with the group of companies. The First Nation describes his resignation as an “abandonment of his positions” with “no notice.”
The First Nation says it had actually begun investigating Kirby three months before his resignation.
Kirby was asked to produce financial records “several” times between May and Aug, which were in his possession or control as president and CEO.
“Mr. Kirby refused to comply” and did not provide the records, the lawsuit alleges.
On Aug. 9, a “Clan Directive” was issued to Kirby and others to produce said records. Kirby still did not provide them.
The First Nation is asking the court to find Kirby liable for the $540,249 he “misappropriated,” in addition to legal costs and damages for breach of fiduciary duty; conversion; fraud; negligence and unjust enrichment.
“Mr. Kirby’s conduct was deceitful and amounts to fraud,” the lawsuit says, further accusing him of misappropriating the funds “for his personal benefit.”
On Feb. 1, after reading the materials filed by the First Nation, the court granted a pre-judgment garnishing order against two Scotiabank branches in Whitehorse and Calgary. The order renders the bank liable for Kirby’s debt, should the court find him owing.
Kirby has not yet filed a defense and these allegations have not been tested in court. The News was not able to reach him for comment by press time.
Contact Gabrielle Plonka at firstname.lastname@example.org