Oil & gas board is reunited

By Lennard Eltsosie
Special to the Times

Aug. 14, 2014

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I want to take this opportunity to address the recent events surrounding the Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Company.

It is important that you understand how your money and resources -- and the money and resources of future generations of Navajo people -- are being managed on your behalf.

NNOGC, after all, is solely owned by the Navajo Nation. The money the company earns each year is the Navajo people's money. The approximately $500 million in assets the company manages following years of strong financial performance are the Navajo people's assets. Managed properly and in accordance with Navajo Nation values, NNOGC can provide financial security for generations to come.

The leadership of NNOGC is united and working together toward that goal. We are proud of the strong business NNOGC has built over many years and will do all we can to protect it.

NNOGC is owned by the Navajo people. NNOGC was established as a corporation under a Section 17 federal charter with the U.S. government. The Navajo Nation is the sole owner. According to the company's charter, NNOGC is operated at the direction of a board of directors, which selects a CEO to run day-to-day operations at the discretion of the board.

If wrongdoing occurs at NNOGC, it is the board's responsibility to investigate and take proper action. That is what we are doing now.

The current NNOGC Board is the legitimate board. The current board of NNOGC is the rightful and lawful board, as the Navajo Nation Supreme Court -- our nation's highest court -- has affirmed in two separate decisions.

There was an attempt at an unlawful corporate takeover in December. That attempt has been found to be unlawful, and all actions taken by that group have been found by the Navajo Nation Supreme Court to be illegitimate.

The NNOGC Board is reunited. The legitimate board is reunited, and we are fulfilling our fiduciary responsibility to ensure the company is again managed with honor and integrity in accordance with Navajo Nation values.

In January, the majority board terminated CEO Robert Joe for numerous violations of Navajo law, company policies and the Navajo people's trust. These issues are all being investigated thoroughly in a forensic audit that will go back four years, so that all allegations of mismanagement prior to Joe's tenure will also be addressed.

Additionally, ethics charges have been filed with the Ethic and Rules Office of the Navajo Nation against four delegate shareholder representatives involved with the illegal attempted takeover.

Our board and company leadership have reunited with traditional Navajo ceremonies and prayers as well as a blessing by a pastor. We wish everything to be rejuvenated and blessed again, for the benefit of the company, our employees and the Navajo Nation.

We are sincere in our desire to reestablish Navajo values in the way this company is run.

Damage caused to NNOGC is being addressed. The activities over recent months have caused disruption with our banking partners. Under the current leadership of CEO Louis Denetsosie, we have been successful in restoring their confidence.

However, the disruption has come at a significant financial cost, including additional interest payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars per month. In addition, we are now learning of financial mismanagement and impropriety that occurred under the previous administration.

We are working to recover the Navajo people's money.

NNOGC has a strong financial foundation. Recent events had negative implications for the company's short-term financial performance. Thankfully, though, NNOGC is on strong footing for the long term.

The company has experienced consistent, strong growth in recent years and holds approximately $500 million in net assets. Managed properly and according to Navajo Nation values and laws, NNOGC will be a source of financial security for many generations to come.

I encourage you to stay informed. I encourage you to visit www.nnogcupdates.com to learn more about the company and recent events. You can also sign up to receive regular e-mail updates.

Unified, we will weather this storm together. Moving forward, we will manage this important asset in accordance with Navajo values and laws for the benefit of the Navajo people and future generations.

(Editor's note: Lennard Eltsosie is the chairman of the Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Company board.)

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