Documents detail lavish lifestyle of company CEO

The Register-Guard, Oregon/March 2, 2012

The bankruptcy filing of Golden Temple CEO Kartar Singh Khalsa provides a glimpse into a life that most Lane County residents can only imagine.

The bulk of Khalsa's $30.95 million in assets is his $23.5 million interest in Golden Temple of Oregon, the natural foods company that built such brands as Peace Cereal and Yogi Tea.

The company was founded in the early 1970s by students of the late Yogi Bhajan, who brought his blend of Sikhism and kundalini yoga to the United States in the late 1960s. He died in 2004.

Khalsa owns a big chunk of the company where he has worked his entire adult life because of a company restructuring in 2007, which transferred 90 percent of ownership in the company to Golden Temple Management, a group of six Golden Temple executives, including Khalsa. He has a 48 percent interest in Golden Temple Management, the largest share of any of the members.

That transfer of assets from the Sikh community to company executives was at the heart of the lawsuit in Multnomah County Circuit Court in which Judge Leslie Roberts found that Khalsa breached his fiduciary responsibilities to the Sikh religious community and was unjustly enriched. Damages are still to be determined.

In the bankruptcy records, Khalsa also lists $5.1 million in assets in six units in the Pacifica condominiums in Portland, including his residence.

Pacifica's website boasts that 74 of its 75 units are sold. "Live on the water on the edge of the Pearl in Portland's hippest new riverfront development," the website says.

Khalsa's biggest secured creditor is Union Bank of California, with a claim of $350,000 on Pacifica real property with a value of $575,000.

Khalsa lists a current monthly income of $64,070, virtually all of it from salary and bonuses. By way of comparison, the average annual wage in Lane County was $35,889 in 2010, according to the state Employment Department.

In his filing, Khalsa listed income of $924,359 from Golden Temple of Oregon in 2010 and $820,000 in 2011, as well as $7.5 million in Golden Temple of Oregon profits and excess tax distributions in 2010. In addition, he listed bonuses as a director of Akal Security, another Sikh community business in Espanola, N.M., of $55,000 in 2010 and of $44,000 in 2011.

Khalsa's ex-wife, Sat Mander Kaur Khalsa, is listed as an unsecured creditor with a priority claim for $910,000 in alimony. The filings show that Kartar Singh Khalsa paid his ex-wife $120,000 in alimony last year and still owes her $910,000.

The filings also list $385,000 in compensation for bankruptcy attorneys, most of the bill to be paid by Kartar Singh Khalsa and the rest by CNA Insurance Trust.

The Golden Temple Management filing listed assets of $49 million and liabilities of $10.4 million. The management group's largest asset is its 90 percent ownership in Golden Temple of Oregon, valued at $40 million, and a "holdback" on the sale of its cereal division to Hearthside Food Solutions of $5 million.

However, under unsecured claims, Hearthside is listed as having a $9.8 million claim to holdback funds.

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