Why The Hindujas, UK’s Wealthiest Family, Face Jail Term In Switzerland

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Why The Hindujas, UK's Wealthiest Family, Face Jail Term In Switzerland

The Hindujas, the wealthiest family in the UK, face 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.

The court on Friday branded the Hindujas “selfish” after prosecutors alleged they meted out inhuman treatment to their staff, who were taken from India to work as domestic help at their family mansion.

It ordered four-year and six months’ jail term for Prakash Hinduja and his wife Kamal Hinduja, and handed their son Ajay and his Namrata four-year terms each. The court, however, acquitted them of a more serious charge of human trafficking.

The Hindujas, whose fortunes are estimated to be around $47 billion, run businesses ranging from oil and gas to banking and healthcare in as many as 38 countries.

During the trial, prosecutors had alleged the Hindujas paid their staff only $8 (Rs 660) for working up to 18 hours a day. This was less than a tenth of the wage mandated by Swiss law.

The family also confiscated the passports of their staff and rarely allowed them outside their villa in the wealthy neighbourhood of Cologny, the prosecutors alleged.

They also told the court that the family spent more on their dog than on their servants. Their expenses were around 8,584 Swiss francs (Rs 8 lakh) on their dog every year whereas some of their staff worked up to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, for just 7 Swiss francs (Rs 660) per day, Swiss prosecutor Yves Bertossa had stated.

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

The family said in a statement 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 a statement signed by the lawyers of the Hindujas.

The Hindujas had earlier reached an out-of-court settlement with the three employees who had made the accusations against them, but the prosecution went ahead with it 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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