July 18, 2024

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Hinduja family members sentenced to jail for exploiting domestic staff

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Four members of the multi-billionaire Hinduja clan, the UK’s wealthiest family, have been convicted of exploiting their domestic staff and sentenced to lengthy jail terms by a court in Geneva.

In a ruling on Friday, a panel of three judges found Prakash Hinduja, his wife Kamal, as well as their son Ajay and his wife, Namrata, guilty of serious employment offences related to Indian staff.

“They spent more on [their] dog than one of their servants,” Genevan public prosecutor Yves Bertossa told the court this week in a case that shed a harsh light on the punishing conditions to which one of the world’s wealthiest families subjected their staff.

The court cleared the four Hindujas of the more serious charge of human trafficking that had been brought by the authorities.

The domestic staff at the centre of the case, who were mostly illiterate, had been flown in directly from India to work at the family’s palatial home in Switzerland.

In a damning verdict, presiding judge Sabina Mascotto said the Hindujas had no excuses for their behaviour.

“[The workers] were exploited given their situation in India was so precarious and they were exploited as they didn’t know the language, had their passports confiscated and were only ever paid every 3-6 months,” said Mascotto.

“The four Hindujas knew the vulnerabilities of the staff and knew what the rules were in Switzerland, as they all were Swiss citizens and Ajay was educated in Switzerland,” she added.

The court nevertheless ruled that the employees had known the terms they were signing up for when they entered the family’s service in India and therefore could not have been said to be trafficked.

Reflecting the seriousness of the offences the four were convicted of, Prakash and Kamal were sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison. Ajay and Namrata received a four-year sentence.

An appeal process could take years in Switzerland’s often slow-moving justice system, under which a judgment is not considered final…

2024-06-21 14:24:03

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