Money Trail At Heart Of Sikhs’ Legal Battle

March 3, 2010

Author: Sherri Buri McDonald

Source: The Register-Guard

A legal dispute between two factions of the Sikh community founded by Yogi Bhajan recently reached a partial settlement, clearing the way for the sale of Golden Temple’s cereal business.

But a bigger dispute over who controls the community’s businesses — Golden Temple and Akal Security — whose combined annual sales top $800 million, and who decides where that money goes, is being waged in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

Golden Temple, a natural foods company, was founded in Eugene by Sikh believers in 1973. Yogi Bhajan, the community’s spiritual leader and Golden Temple’s CEO, set up an entity called Unto Infinity to oversee operations after his death. He died in 2004.

In January, a group of Sikh religious leaders, known as “Sikh Dharma International,” sued four Sikh business leaders, including Golden Temple’s current CEO, Kartar Khalsa, serving on the “Unto Infinity” board.

The religious leaders allege that the business leaders have grabbed power and are using Sikh community assets for personal gain, instead of for the entire Sikh community. They are seeking damages of at least $3 million.