NIKKI HALEY’S FAMILY TEMPLE HAS BEEN UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR NEARLY A YEAR
For the last year, FITS has been the only news outlet in the state reporting on an ongoing federal investigation into alleged financial irregularities at the Sikh Religious Society of South Carolina – a.k.a. the “Sikh Temple.”
In fact, we first reported on financial problems at the temple back in November 2010 – a day before its former accountant, Nikki Haley, was elected governor of South Carolina.
Several months later – in April 2011 – we reported that federal agents were asking questions about the temple’s finances based on information provided to them by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). More recently, we’ve been told that this federal investigation has expanded to cover Haley’s family finances – and that Haley’s father, Ajit S. Randhawa, is a central figure in the probe.
Separating fact from fiction related to this brewing scandal has been difficult, though.
We know that former SLED chief Reggie Lloyd – who announced his resignation from Haley’s cabinet last March – forwarded specific temple-related allegations to the FBI in early 2011. Those allegations reportedly centered on the issuance of fraudulent tax receipts, illegal campaign activity on Haley’s behalf and improper cash disbursements – including disbursements to Haley and her family.
But what transpired next?
Well, nearly a year after we first reported on the fact that a federal investigation was underway, a political blog based in Columbia, S.C. has unearthed a copy of a letter from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to the Sikh Religious Society dated March 31, 2011.
The letter – first published on the Palmetto Public Record website – confirms our original reporting.
Specifically, the IRS letter alerts the Temple’s officers to the fact that the organization is being investigated in order to “verify the correctness of income or gross receipts, deductions and credits, and to determine that the organization is operating in the manner stated and for the purpose set forth in its application for recognition of exemption.”
The broad letter – which contains mostly form language about the recipients’ rights – doesn’t get into specifics.
However its unearthing demonstrates that a year ago the federal government began an investigation into the Temple’s finances that we’re told has escalated dramatically over the past eleven months.
Where will that investigation ultimately lead?
Stay tuned …