Fort Belknap company's officers sued over lending operations
Three of IMDG's lending companies accused of violating Minnesota, federal laws
November 6, 2023
Fort Belknap's short-term lending operations might not be able to do business with anyone in Minnesota for much longer after the state's attorney general sued their CEO and board chairman this week, alleging the companies have been violating state and federal law by handing out, and collecting on, loans with exorbitant interest rates.
Those companies are owned and operated by the Fort Belknap Indian Community tribes through their economic development company, Island Mountain Development Group, and bring in about 90% of its revenue, which was about $130 million annually as of three years ago.
IMDG generates the bulk of economic activity and jobs on the remote reservation in northern Montana – largely by handing out small loans with interest rates from 400% to 800%.
The lawsuit filed in federal court on Monday and announced Wednesday by Attorney General Keith Ellison marks the highest-profile legal challenge to IMDG's lending companies, which are now ongoing in at least three other states, as the company alleges its former attorney engaged in financial malpractice over the past several years before a leadership shakeup earlier this year.