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CEO Of Cherokee Nation Businesses Won't Discuss Leave

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Dave Stewart talking with Dan Bewley. Dave Stewart talking with Dan Bewley.
The Cherokee Casino was just a small building surrounded only by a smaller parking lot in 2002. The Cherokee Casino was just a small building surrounded only by a smaller parking lot in 2002.
Stewart is on the outside now, ten years after turning the Cherokee Casino into the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Stewart is on the outside now, ten years after turning the Cherokee Casino into the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
CATOOSA, Oklahoma -

The Cherokee Nation Businesses board of directors met Monday morning, a few days after placing its chief executive officer on leave.

Dave Stewart was placed on what was termed a "mutually agreeable" administration leave on Friday, March 2, 2012.

3/2/2012 Related Story: Cherokee Nation Business CEO Placed On Leave

The CNB is the "economic engine of the Cherokee Nation," over the tribe's gaming, hospitality, personnel services, distribution, manufacturing, telecommunications and environmental services industries, according to their website.

The Cherokee Casino was just a small building surrounded only by a smaller parking lot in 2002. That was the year David Stewart was hired as CEO for Cherokee Nation Businesses.

"I just want to make the point that the company is in great financial condition at this point," Stewart said.

Stewart is on the outside now, ten years after turning the Cherokee Casino into the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Stewart was placed on a 30 day leave of absence last Friday. He says he hasn't turned in his resignation, doesn't plan too, and he hasn't been asked to resign.

He calls the leave of absence a time out period for him and the company to settle contractual obligations.

"Again, I've been advised not to comment on that. You'd have to ask Bill John Baker and the Board of Directors about the answer to that," Stewart said.

News On 6 called Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker but he's out of town and unavailable. We took our questions to Sam Hart, chairman of the Cherokee Nation Businesses board of directors. He also wouldn't comment but only said that CNB is doing very well.

"Cherokee Nation is in great shape, we're making great strides, we're in great shape," Hart said.

The numbers of David Stewart's tenure back that up. In 2002, Cherokee Nation Businesses had around a thousand employees, this year it has more than 4,500.

In 2002, CNB's revenue was close to $25-million, in 2012, it's more than $600-million. Stewart says if this is indeed the end of his time with Cherokee Nation Businesses that he's proud of how the company has grown.

"There's absolutely no blemish on the company, only positive results and that's where we stand today and that's good for the Cherokee people, long term," he said.

Stewart says he's especially proud that Cherokee Nation Businesses has always had a clean audit report during his tenure and that he helped lead the company into other business ventures besides gaming.

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