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Abuse of Power

‘Selfish’ Hinduja Family Worth Billions, But Pays Servants Just Rs 700 for Grueling 18-Hour Workdays, Swiss Court Finds

A Swiss judge found four members of the Hinduja family guilty of illegal employment, which they have challenged in a higher court.



Geneva: The Hinduja family, known as the wealthiest family in the UK, faces around four-year jail terms for exploiting their Indian employees at their Geneva villa. A Swiss judge found four members of the family guilty of illegal employment, which they have challenged in a higher court.

On Friday, the court branded the Hindujas as “selfish” after prosecutors alleged they subjected their staff to inhuman treatment. These employees were taken from India to work as domestic help at the Hinduja family mansion.

The court sentenced Prakash Hinduja and his wife Kamal Hinduja to four years and six months in jail. Their son Ajay and his wife Namrata were handed four-year terms each. However, the court acquitted them of a more serious charge of human trafficking.

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The Hinduja family, whose fortunes are estimated to be around USD 47 billion, run businesses ranging from oil and gas to banking and healthcare in 38 countries. During the trial, prosecutors alleged the Hindujas paid their staff only USD 8 (Rs 660) for working up to 18 hours a day, which is less than a tenth of the wage mandated by Swiss law. Additionally, the family confiscated the passports of their staff and rarely allowed them outside their villa in the wealthy neighborhood of Cologny.

Prosecutors also told the court that the family spent more on their dog than on their servants. Their annual expenses on the dog were around 8,584 Swiss francs (Rs 8 lakh), while some of their staff worked up to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, for just 7 Swiss francs (Rs 660) per day.

The Hindujas denied the allegations, stating their employees could freely leave the villa and received ample benefits. The defense argued that the staff was “grateful” to the Hindujas for “offering them a better life.”

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In a statement, the family expressed they were “appalled” by the verdict and have filed a challenge in a higher court. “We are appalled and disappointed by the rest of the decision made in this court of first instance, and we have of course filed an appeal to the higher court thereby making this part of the judgment not effective,” said the statement signed by the lawyers of the Hindujas.

Previously, the Hindujas had reached an out-of-court settlement with the three employees who made the accusations against them, but the prosecution proceeded with the case due to the gravity of the charges.

Prakash and Kamal Hinduja, both in their 70s, did not attend the court due to health reasons. Ajay and Namrata had attended the trial but were not present on Friday to hear the verdict.

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