The finding — which the council vehemently disputes — raises fresh questions about an organization that receives millions of dollars in federal funding.
It also comes to light at a time when federal officials in Ottawa are cautiously watching a court case unfold that could give the Metis a major stake in aboriginal politics.
The matter dates back to December 2011, when the council moved into a new office in downtown Ottawa owned by a numbered company linked to its provincial affiliate in Manitoba.
A branch of Aboriginal Affairs called the Office of the Federal Interlocutor allowed the council to sign a lease with the company, on condition that it pay market rates and that its rent costs not increase.
But an auditor told the department in 2012 that the council is paying roughly the same amount of money now to rent a smaller, lower class of office space — a claim that the council's vice-president strongly denies.