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Łutsel K'e Dene First Nation wrap up arguments in fraud case by focusing on role of CEO's wife

Zeba Barlas (right) with husband Ron Barlas. Lawyers say Ron Barlas didn’t act alone after allegedly misappropriating millions of the nations money and that his wife Zeba Barlas wife was a 'willing participant' in his alleged crimes.  (Ron Barlas / Facebook - image credit)
Zeba Barlas (right) with husband Ron Barlas. Lawyers say Ron Barlas didn’t act alone after allegedly misappropriating millions of the nations money and that his wife Zeba Barlas wife was a 'willing participant' in his alleged crimes. (Ron Barlas / Facebook - image credit)

Łutsel K'e Dene First Nation's (LKDFN) lawyers made their final argument against Ron Barlas Tuesday, focusing on Barlas' wife's role of the alleged fraud.

Barlas is the CEO of Denesoline, alleged to have funnelled close to $12 million into his own companies for personal gain.

Lawyers describe his wife, Zeba Barlas as a "key component in the entire sham," who benefited from her husband's crimes.

Evidence presented earlier in the case, revealed Zeba as the owner of three properties alleged to have been purchased with Denesoline money, despite her having no income or verified employment history.

She is also listed as an officer and director of several of her husband's companies.

Iqbal Bhatti, a former Denesoline employee and initial whistleblower against Ron Barlas, previously told counsel that Zeba did no work, except to sign documents.

Ron Barlas has claimed his wife was only his personal assistant for his Northern Consulting Group (NCG) firm, a shell company lawyers say Barlas funneled LKDFN funds into.

Lawyers say Zeba has failed to provide any evidence against the accusations, and it remains unclear why.

Court attendees heard more details about the Barlas' spending sprees, which ranged from luxury vehicles and apparel, to video game subscriptions.

Additionally, lawyers presented evidence that payments were made through NCG to Red Deer College in 2022, where Barlas' daughter was studying.

LKDFN has asked Barlas be removed as Denesoline CEO, and pay back any misused funds, along with damages. LKDFN has also asked that three properties owned by Zeba be put into a trust.

Barlas' lawyers will present their arguments in Yellowknife on April 2nd.