A New Mexico-based security company is seeking an injunction to prevent the state from canceling a recently awarded three-year contract at Honolulu Airport.
In a complaint filed in Circuit Court yesterday, Akal Security Inc. said there is "absolutely no basis" for allegations that principals in the firm are under federal investigation for alleged criminal activity.
The suggestion that the Drug Enforcement Agency may be investigating Akal is "particularly ludicrous" since the firm provides security to the agency's Washington, D.C., headquarters under contract with the U.S. Marshals Service, the complaint says. A hearing was scheduled for today.
Several federal agencies have been asked to help state officials determine whether Akal has officers with criminal records, an allegation flatly rejected by two company officials.
Shanti Kaur Khalsa, director of operations, said, "If we did, we could have never applied for the state contract or never be able to hold a secret clearance."
Daya Singh Khalsa, senior vice president, called the allegation groundless, noting his company also has security contracts with the Marshals Service in 31 states that cover 300 courthouses.
Both Shanti Kaur Khalsa and Daya Singh Khalsa are Sikhs and are not related. They say the confusion stems from a 10-year-old drug arrest on the East Coast of someone who bears the same last name.
"That person has no relationship to our company or religion or me," said Shanti Kaur Khalsa. "In my culture everyone has the same last name. ... I believe the truth will prevail and we will continue to work at the airport."
She said Akal beat Wackenhut Corp. by submitting a low bid of $20.4 million to provide security at Honolulu Airport. The bid was awarded Aug. 16. Wackenhut outbid Akal for the neighbor island airports contract.
In its complaint, Akal says the state has not signed its contract yet, although the company was given a purchase order number orally to induce it to start work.
Shanti Kaur Khalsa said shortly after the company began working at the airport, her employees received fliers questioning the status of company employees.
Those anonymous allegations also were sent to the Federal Aviation Administration and other state officials.
State Attorney General Earl Anzai said his office was asked to look into the allegations by Gov. Ben Cayetano, and his staff has completed a "preliminary investigation" and is still awaiting a report from airport officials.Anzai declined to release his staff's findings. However, Daya Singh Khalsa said the attorney general's office yesterday told him the entire matter has been turned over to the state Transportation Department.
State Airports Administrator Jerry Matsuda last night said his office is still evaluating Akal's contract and "so far the work is satisfactory."
He said the Federal Aviation Administration is helping to collect information on the company.
"We are treating them as if they have met all of the qualifications," Matsuda said.
He said the company earlier presented a list of their past federal contracts which was "very impressive" and there didn't seem to be any problems until the state received an anonymous complaint.
Thomas Rea, FAA's Pacific representative, said all the information his agency gathers will be turned over to the state. The FAA was waiting until the company posted a bond -- which Akal said was done Tuesday -- and was checking its latest contract with an airport in Houston.
Shanti Kaur Khalsa said the company's records and employees were screened a year ago by transportation officials before the bidding process began this summer. Akal never would have been able to participate if any of its employees had criminal records, she said.
State law prevents anyone with a criminal felony record from being hired as a security guard, she said.