Four Members of Britain’s Richest Family Imprisoned for Enslaving Domestic Workers

exploitation of domestic by the Hinduja family
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In a landmark ruling, a Geneva criminal court has sentenced four members of the British-Indian billionaire Hinduja family to several years in prison for the exploitation of domestic workers. Prakash Hinduja and Kamal Hinduja, as well as their son Ajay and his wife Namrata, were found guilty of exploitation and illegal employment by a Swiss court and handed sentences ranging from four to four-and-a-half years. They were acquitted on the more serious charge of human trafficking.

The Verdict:

Four members of the UK’s richest family have received prison sentences for exploiting staff brought over from India to work at their Geneva villa.

The court found the Hinduja family guilty of confiscating their workers’ passports, restricting their movement, and forcing them to work up to 18 hours a day under dire conditions. The workers described a “climate of fear” orchestrated by Kamal Hinduja, where they were subjected to long hours with minimal rest and virtually no vacation time. They were housed in the basement, sometimes with only a mattress on the floor for sleeping.

Despite these severe findings, the court dismissed the more serious charges of human trafficking against 79-year-old tycoon Prakash Hinduja, his wife Kamal, his son Ajay, and his daughter-in-law Namrata. The court reasoned that the workers had at least partially understood the conditions they would face.

The Geneva court concluded that the Hinduja family had exploited and illegally employed their domestic workers, providing little to no health insurance and paying wages that were less than one-tenth of the standard rates for such jobs in Switzerland.

Sentencing and Reparations:

The four defendants received prison sentences ranging from four to four-and-a-half years and were ordered to pay damages amounting to 850,000 Swiss francs. The workers, mostly uneducated Indians, were paid in Indian rupees, deposited into Indian bank accounts to which they had no access.

The family’s business manager, Najib Ziazi, received an 18-month suspended sentence.

Defense and Appeal:

Defense lawyers have indicated their intent to appeal the verdict. Robert Assael, representing Kamal Hinduja, expressed relief that the human trafficking charge was dropped but criticized the sentence as excessive. He highlighted the poor health of the elderly defendants, noting that Kamal Hinduja is currently in intensive care.

The case has drawn international attention, with an Indian MP remarking, “What we don’t have in India, but urgently need, is equality before the law.”

Last week, it was revealed in court that the Hinduja family had reached an undisclosed settlement with the plaintiffs. Swiss authorities have seized valuable assets, including diamonds, rubies, a platinum necklace, and other jewelry, to cover legal fees and potential fines.

The Hinduja Empire:

Prakash Hinduja, along with his three brothers, leads a vast industrial group spanning information technology, media, energy, real estate, and healthcare. With an estimated net worth of around €18.6 billion, The Sunday Times of London considers the Hinduja family the wealthiest in the UK.

Having settled in Switzerland in the 1980s, Prakash Hinduja was previously convicted on similar charges in 2007. He obtained Swiss citizenship in 2000 and is currently under investigation by Swiss authorities for separate tax-related issues.

CategoriesCourt Cases

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