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Sikh leader to pray for his • Friday March 14, 2003

Documents he has filed in court deny allegations that he misused temple funds
The Province (Canada), Mar. 13, 2003
Jason Proctor and Stuart Hunter, The Province

An internationally renowned Sikh religious leader has filed documents in B.C. Supreme Court offering his prayers for three dissident members of a Richmond congregation who want him deposed for misappropriating temple funds.

Harnek Singh Grewal, 65, vehemently denies charges that he used hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to the Nanaksar Gurdwara-Gursikh Temple Society for personal use.

The man known to followers as “Maharaj Ji” or “the Prince” also denies accusations that he lost $45,000 at a Las Vegas casino and used temple donations to pay for his nieces’ weddings.

“It is suggested in the affidavits that I have misused, for personal purposes, funds donated to the society. Those allegations are not true,” writes Grewal.

The statement of defence is accompanied by several affidavits in support of Grewal, who heads a religious sect with temples in Richmond, Edmonton, Toronto, England and India. He controls a global empire estimated at $20 million.

Madho Singh Pandher, Tehal Singh Kaila and Dharam Singh Manhas have petitioned the court to remove Grewal and the society’s directors. They also want an independent audit of the society’s financial affairs from 1994 to 2002.

Tens of thousands of people witnessed Grewal’s accession to the worldwide spiritual leadership of the Gursikh congregation in September 1994 after the death of Sant Baba Mihan Singh Ji, or”Baba Ji.”

While Grewal refutes charges of financial impropriety, his affidavit makes no mention of an incident in which he pleaded guilty to one count of being over the legal blood-alcohol limit after an Alberta police officer found him slumped behind the wheel of a vehicle at West Edmonton Mall in November 2000. His breath test showed a reading of .160, twice the legal limit.

The transcript from that court proceeding is included in the court file. Grewal was fined $600 and handed a 12-month driving suspension.

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