LAWTON — A bank has frozen $6.5 million in funds belonging to the Comanche Nation amid a leadership dispute, court records show.
Lawyers representing Texas-based International Bank of Commerce filed a complaint Friday in federal court, alleging that a series of recall hearings in April have left bank officials unsure as to who is authorized to use the accounts.
Johnny Wauqua, chairman of the Comanche Nation, called for recall meetings to unseat six members of the Comanche Business Committee and the tribe has since split into two factions.
According to court records, three of the ousted committee members held a tribal council meeting somewhere near the tribal complex May 19, passing a set of six resolutions. Some of the resolutions deemed Wauqua's actions illegal, further muddling the leadership issue.
Records show the group wasn't allowed to meet at the tribal complex near Lawton because Wauqua prevented it using police.
The bank claims it froze the tribe's seven individual accounts on May 29 due to competing claims of signatory authority. Records show both factions are “making claims” on the $6.5 million.
Attempts to reach the Comanche Nation for comment on this story were unsuccessful.
The freeze placed on the tribe's funds marks the second time in the past few weeks a leadership dispute has caused tribal funds to be frozen by a bank.
In late April, a Clinton bank placed an administrative freeze on $6.4 million belonging to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes due to a leadership quarrel between the governor and lieutenant governor. A district judge is expected to rule on the issue Friday in Custer County.
In the meantime, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes have sued the judge in Custer County, as well as the bank, for keeping the funds frozen.