Allegations fly at Kwantlen

Past and current student boards accuse one other of financial mismanagement.

The Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) says recent speculation and conflict of interest allegations leveled against it are an attempt by former student executives to divert attention from prior mismanagement of the KSA going as far back as 2002.

Last week, it was revealed that one of the newly elected members of the association, Justine Franson, is the sister of a former KSA member named in a 2008 lawsuit alleging theft and fraud involving thousands of dollars while he was in office. Because the new board changed lawyers – thereby putting the legal action on hold – critics have said Franson is in a conflict of interest because of her family ties to one of the defendants.

In a press release sent out late Friday, current members of the association said though they did fire lawyer David Borins, the legal counsel handling the lawsuit, shortly after taking office, but claims it was because he is a close friend of longtime former KSA general manager Desmond Rodenbour, who was terminated early this year. Although the lawyer has changed, the legal position regarding the 2008 lawsuit has not, said the student group.

The KSA said the conflict allegations against it are intended to divert attention from prior long-term financial fraud. Among other things, the association claims Rodenbour and former chairperson Laura Anderson had an intimate relationship that renders their decisions and spending of million of dollars of student fees questionable.

“These positions are central to the balance of power, ensuring checks and balances, and accountability. This is a clear form of corruption…” the KSA alleged in last week’s press release.

The executive has now hired Deloitte & Touche to conduct a forensic review of the society from 2001 to 2011 to highlight what the current student group calls past “fraud, embezzlement and mismanagement.”

Justine Franson was elected the KSA’s director of operations in the spring.

Aaron Takhar, her brother, was leader of the Reduce All Fees (RAF) party, which took power of the KSA in a controversial 2005 vote and then was subsequently ousted in a court-ordered election. Takhar, as well as former association president Danish Butt, Jaivin Khatri, Yasser Ahmad and Jatinder (Joey) Atwal were sued by the subsequent student executive. At the time, the plaintiffs said the focus of the lawsuit was Takhar, who was considered the leader of the group.

The lawsuit stemmed from findings of financial audits in 2007 concluding there were thousands of dollars in mysterious loans, questionable investments and undocumented payments made to KSA executives and staff between December 2005 and November 2006.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

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