In Symbolic Turnaround, Paskenta Band Receives Certification from Centre for Fiduciary Excellence

Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians Chairman Andrew “Dru” Alejandre with representatives from CEFEX, a Fi360 company

On the 25th anniversary of achieving status as a sovereign nation, the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians was recognized as the first Tribal government in California to receive certification from the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX), a Fi360 company.

The certification recognizes the Band’s investment fiduciary practices that adhere to a global standard of excellence for Investment Stewards.

The certification also represents a dramatic five-year turnaround to re-establish best fiduciary and investment practices after former predatory leadership misused the Tribe to run a fraudulent scheme to extort millions of dollars.

Blaine F. Aikin, Executive Chairman, Fi360 Inc. and CEFEX awarded the Tribe with a plaque of recognition on November 2nd.

“The Tribe has worked hard, for the last five years, to build a transparent, democratic, and representative Tribal government that works for the benefit of all members. Sending these former officials to jail for their corruption significantly assists in that process,” said Tribal Chairman Andrew Alejandre.

The Tribe’s Chief Executive Officer Damon Safronek added, “The message has been sent loud and clear, if you steal from the Tribe or help others steal from the Tribe, you will be held accountable.”

Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians Tribal Council with Blaine F. Aikin, Executive Chairman, Fi360 Inc. and CEFEX (Courtesy

Stuart G. Gross of Gross & Klein LLP, who represents the Tribe in these actions, added: “For over a decade, three former officials ran the Tribe’s government as a brutal kleptocracy, enriching themselves and their families while brutally punishing those who opposed them. The Tribe’s commitment to holding them responsible for their crimes has been awe inspiring.”

Concurrently with this effort to hold former officials responsible for their crimes, the new Tribal Council set about putting transparent, good government processes in place. This included a rules-based process to un-enroll ineligible members.

“The Tribal Council held visioning and strategic planning meetings and have been working for the last 5 years to set up a transparent government that operates as it should, for the stability and sustainability of the tribe,” says Patricia Mercier, Chief Financial Officer, who was brought in almost five years ago by the new Tribal Council. “In the initial years while the ineligible group was in power, there were no books and that group ignored the governing laws for gaming. It took time to figure out what assets the Tribe had.”

One of the goals the Tribal Council set was hiring a fiduciary to help manage the Tribe’s assets — Minors Trust, 401(k)s, and endowment funds. Through an RFP process, the Tribal Council selected Smart Investor, a CEFEX certified Registered Investment Adviser (RIA), and its Chairman, Allan Henriques, to manage the assets.  “The Tribal Council emphasized the need for transparency and following the best investment fiduciary practices. We worked with the Tribal Council to develop Investment Policy Statements for the pools of capital, and design investment programs and sustainable spending plans,” says Henriques, “to benefit tribal members and the work Paskenta does in the surrounding community.”

The CEFEX standard of excellence for Investment Stewards is based on 21 fiduciary practices that seek to increase long-term investment performance by diversifying the portfolio across multiple asset classes and peer groups, evaluating investment management fees and expenses, and selecting or terminating investment managers. The practices also help uncover investment and/or procedural risk, which may assist in prioritizing investment management projects.

The ceremony happened during the Tribe’s annual economic review meeting with the Tribal Membership. The day also represented the 25th Anniversary of the Tribe’s restoration of federal recognized sovereign status.

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