Swiss Court Sentences UK’s Wealthiest Hinduja Family for Exploiting Domestic Workers

Hinduja Family

A Swiss court has convicted members of the UK’s wealthiest family for exploiting domestic workers at a luxury villa in Geneva. However, the court acquitted the family members charged with human trafficking of their servants, according to reports.

The court sentenced Prakash and Kamal Hinduja to four years and six months in prison, while Ajay and Namrata Hinduja were sentenced to jail for four years. They were also ordered to pay approximately USD 950,000 in compensation and USD 300,000 in procedural fees.

Prosecutors had accused four members of the UK family—Prakash Hinduja, Kamal Hinduja, their son Ajay Hinduja, and daughter-in-law Namrata Hinduja—of trafficking and exploiting several workers from India. Allegations included confiscating workers’ passports and compelling them to work 16-hour days or longer without overtime pay at the villa. The Hindujas’ lawyers had denied these claims.

Najib Ziazi, a business adviser for the family who faced charges, was found complicit in the exploitation. Romain Jordan, a lawyer representing the Hinduja family, expressed disappointment with the decision and confirmed they had appealed to a higher court.

“The family maintains full faith in the judicial process and remains determined to defend themselves,” Jordan stated in an email.

The Hinduja family oversees a multinational conglomerate with significant holdings in real estate, automotive manufacturing, banking, oil and gas, and healthcare.

The trial commenced on June 10, with lead prosecutor Yves Bertossa asserting that the family budgeted more for a pet than for the salary of a domestic worker. According to the indictment, some domestic workers, responsible for childcare and housework, received as little as 10,000 rupees monthly (approximately USD 120). Many workers hailed from impoverished backgrounds in India and allegedly worked from dawn until late evening without overtime pay.

The indictment also mentioned that salaries were below Geneva’s minimum wage for domestic workers, and money was deposited into Indian bank accounts inaccessible to the workers. Prosecutors claimed the Hinduja family confiscated passports and instructed workers not to leave the villa, where they slept in bunk beds in a windowless basement.

Jordan, the family’s lawyer, rejected these allegations, calling them “exaggerated and biased.” He stated before the verdict that the Hinduja family “vigorously deny these allegations.”

Last week, a civil case involving the primary accusers, who worked for the family, was settled. Jordan declined to discuss the terms, citing confidentiality, but confirmed the plaintiffs withdrew their complaints.

In the criminal case, prosecutors had sought sentences of up to five and a half years, alongside substantial fines and compensation in millions of francs.

The Hinduja brothers, who lead the conglomerate, have properties in London, including a 25-bedroom residence and a historic former government building housing a five-star Raffles Hotel, the Old War Office.

The eldest brother, Srichand P Hinduja, formerly joint chairman of the Hinduja Group, passed away in 2023 at 87. Prior to his death, family factions were engaged in a prolonged dispute over control of family assets.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte