In a development that will have little impact on Tuesday’s South Carolina gubernatorial race – but which could possibly have far-reaching implications beyond it – sources tell FITS that they have discovered another hornet’s nest of tax problems tied to S.C. Rep. Nikki Haley.
These alleged issues revolve around the Sikh Religious Society of South Carolina – which operates the temple where Haley’s parents, Dr. Ajit S. “Doc” Randhawa and Raj Randhawa worship on Sundays (and where Haley was recently photographed attending a family wedding).
According to sources and documents made available exclusively to FITS, the temple has a history of accounting problems including failing to pay contractors and possibly even providing donors with fraudulent tax receipts for cash contributions. Who keeps the books for the temple? Multiple sources point the finger at Haley – who prior to a slew of recent tax problems liked to boast of her skills as an accountant for her family business.
“I know I’m the right person to go into this next position because I’m an accountant, who knows what it means to stretch a dollar,” Haley has repeatedly stated.
In fact, several congregation members who spoke with FITS on condition of anonymity say that they learned of Haley’s alleged involvement with the temple’s books directly from her father – who until two weeks ago was personally collecting donations to pay for a new temple.
FITS attempted to contact the Sikh Religious Society of South Carolina regarding who is responsible for its financial books but the group’s telephone number has been disconnected. Also the organization’s website, CarolinaSikhs.org, has been pulled down. Reached via cell phone, Harmit Singh – the temple priest – refused to confirm or deny reports that Haley has served as the organization’s bookkeeper.
According to Richland County court filings the temple has been sued four times since March 2010 – including actions to foreclose and alleged debts totalling $116,000. In a court filing dated October 15, 2010, the temple was given a twenty-day notice of an impending lawsuit regarding a lien placed on its property by Hardaway Concrete Company – one of several contractors that is suing the temple for non-payment of invoices.
According to Haley’s father, however, the new temple project is progressing according to plan.
“Roof work is completed and Domes with Finials mounted,” Ajit Randhawa informed the congregation in a newsletter published on the same day the Hardaway Concrete notice was filed in Richland County court. “Plumbing work has started.”
The newsletter also reports September 2010 deposits in the temple’s “construction account” of $8,831.00 along with an interest payment to BB&T of $4,109.16.
Until October, contributions earmarked for the project were sent directly to Ajit Randhawa’s residence, however the congregation is now being asked to “make a deposit direct to BB&T” and “call your friends and relatives to donate.”
Speaking of donations, one of the sources we spoke with told us that Randhawa has a history of providing donors with tax receipts that are in excess of cash contributions made to the organization – which if true would be highly illegal.
Clearly, though, Randhawa is not leveling with his congregation about the temple’s outstanding debts – nor is he being honest with them about the size of the loan.
Documents obtained by FITS show that in May of 2009, the temple took out a $750,000 loan with BB&T – although Randhawa has told the congregation on multiple occasions (most recently in the October 15 newsletter) that the loan was for $700,000.
When one congregation member asked about this discrepancy, Randhawa reportedly told them that he would have to “check with Nikki,” who in addition to her rumored work as the society’s accountant was also a member of its board of trustees at one time.
Haley was raised as a Sikh, but joined a Methodist church after marrying her husband, Michael Haley.
Numerous congregation members are unhappy with the Randhawa’s – and Nikki Haley. In fact, Haley’s alleged accounting work has reportedly been so shoddy that when the temple sought the loan, several members of the congregation requested that an outside bookkeeper be brought in to manage its proceeds.
If true, this obviously wouldn’t be the first time that Haley has fumbled work for her family.
In September, records published by the Associated Press revealed that Haley’s family business has been penalized three times over the last six years for failing to pay its corporate income taxes on time (and failing to turn over taxes withheld from employees’ paychecks). The company – owned by her parents – has also been late paying property taxes. Meanwhile, Haley and her husband have also repeatedly failed to pay their income taxes on time – and were late paying their property taxes on at least one occasion.