When money doesn't buy you basic human decency - Members of UK's Indian Origin Hinduja Family sentenced for exploiting servants [Update on post#10]

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Four members of the UK's richest family are on trial in Switzerland amid allegations they spent more money caring for their dog than their servants. The Hinduja family, worth an estimated £37bn ($47bn), is accused of exploitation and human trafficking.

The family own a villa in Geneva’s wealthy neighbourhood of Cologny, and the charges against them all relate to their practice of importing servants from India to look after their children and household.

It’s alleged that Prakash and Kamal Hinduja, together with their son Ajay and his wife Namrata, confiscated staff passports, paid them as little as $8 (£7) for 18-hour days, and allowed them little freedom to leave the house.

Although a financial settlement over exploitation was reached last week, the Hindujas remain on trial for trafficking, which is a serious criminal offence in Switzerland. They deny the charges.

This week in court, one of Geneva’s most famous prosecutors, Yves Bertossa, compared the almost $10,000 a year he claimed the family had spent on their dog, to the daily amount they were allegedly paying their servants.

The Hinduja family's lawyers did not specifically deny the allegations of low wages but said they must be viewed in context - noting that the staff were also receiving accommodation and food.

The charge of long hours was also disputed, with one defence lawyer arguing that watching a film with the Hinduja children could not really be classed as work.

Some former servants testified for the Hindujas, describing them as a friendly family who treated their servants with dignity.

But the allegations that servants’ passports were confiscated, and that they could not even leave the house without permission, are serious, because they could be judged as human trafficking.

Mr Bertossa is calling for prison terms, and millions of dollars in compensation as well as legal fees.


News Source - https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/cm55gzvv1dro
 
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They are too rich to hire servants from India and confiscate their passports. This is obviously done by middlemen and agencies.

Someone who is worth $47Billion do not need to do dirty tricks to hire servants. That is done by small time millionaires and rich. Not billionaires.
 
They are too rich to hire servants from India and confiscate their passports. This is obviously done by middlemen and agencies.

Someone who is worth $47Billion do not need to do dirty tricks to hire servants. That is done by small time millionaires and rich. Not billionaires.

But if they hire local staff they would have to treat them with respect, and be very careful not to overstep any bounds which might land them in trouble. I don't think it's a matter of money, eastern dignitaries tend to expect servants to act like servants and be at their every beck and call. If they hired Swiss staff, they would probably be told where to go if they started throwing round their authority too high handedly, and then probably sued for discrimination or abuse.
 
But if they hire local staff they would have to treat them with respect, and be very careful not to overstep any bounds which might land them in trouble. I don't think it's a matter of money, eastern dignitaries tend to expect servants to act like servants and be at their every beck and call. If they hired Swiss staff, they would probably be told where to go if they started throwing round their authority too high handedly, and then probably sued for discrimination or abuse.

Or a traditional Indian family wants to hire people with Indian cultural identity and knowledge for doing their house hold work.

Its very common among Hindus, Jains etc to be very selective in appointing domestic workers.
 
Or a traditional Indian family wants to hire people with Indian cultural identity and knowledge for doing their house hold work.

Its very common among Hindus, Jains etc to be very selective in appointing domestic workers.
Such folks are often keen to maintain cultural identity but less keen on treating people fairly
 
Most million and billionaires are like this. They can't be any worse then Pak politicians.
 
Bhai people can be rich, but Ladies of some of these rich houses remain cheap as hell. It might seem sexist but most of the household help hiring and other decisions are usually under their control and their treatment is sub-human to say the least.
 
Such folks are often keen to maintain cultural identity but less keen on treating people fairly

This is the issue here, hiring people of your own culture is perfectly understandable, but then why do these people end up taking their employers of the same culture to court in a foreign land with a foreign culture?
 
Four members of Britain's richest family have received jail sentences after being found guilty of exploiting their vulnerable domestic workers and providing unauthorised employment.

Indian-born tycoon Prakash Hinduja and his wife Kamal, along with their son Ajay and his wife Namrata, were, however, cleared by a Swiss criminal court of more serious charges of human trafficking linked to their servants.

The court ruled the servants, who were mostly illiterate Indians and worked at their lakeside villa in Geneva, knew what they were getting into.

The four family members were sentenced to between four and four-and-a-half years in prison.

The lawyers representing the defendants said they would appeal.

In their defence, the Hinduja family's legal team stated the staff were treated respectfully and provided with accommodation.

The four were accused of seizing workers' passports, paying them in rupees - not Swiss francs - barring them from leaving the villa and forcing them to work very long hours for a pittance in Switzerland, among other things.

Sentences

Prakash and Kamal each received jail sentences of four-and-a-half years, while Ajay and his wife Namrata were sentenced to four years each.

The defendants were not in court in Geneva though a fifth defendant - Najib Ziazi, the family's business manager - was there on Friday. He received an 18-month suspended sentence.

Prakash and Kamal, aged 78 and 75 respectively, reportedly did not attend the trial due to health reasons.

It emerged last week in criminal court the family - which has roots in India - had reached an undisclosed settlement with the plaintiffs. Geneva prosecutors opened the case for alleged illegal activity including exploitation, human trafficking and violation of Swiss labour laws.


What did the prosecution allege?

The prosecution said the workers - who were in jobs such as cooks or house help - were sometimes forced to work up to 18 hours a day with little or no holiday time off.

And their pay was less than one-tenth of the comparable amount required under Swiss law, it was alleged.

Employees worked even later hours for receptions and slept in the basement of the villa in the upmarket Cologny area - sometimes on a mattress on the floor, said prosecutors, who described a "climate of fear" brought by Kamal Hinduja.

Some workers allegedly spoke only Hindi and were paid their wages in Indian rupees in banks back home that they could not access.

Swiss authorities have already seized jewellery including diamonds, rubies, a platinum necklace, as well as other assets, from the family in anticipation they could be used to pay for legal fees and possible penalties.

The Hinduja family controls multinational conglomerate the Hinduja Group with businesses ranging from trucks and lubricants to banking and cable television.

Prakash Hinduja's brother Gopichand took over as chairman after older sibling Srichand died in May 2023.

Prakash is chair of the Hinduja Group in Europe, while a fourth brother Ashok is chair of Hinduja Group of Companies (India).

The family, led by Gopichand, topped the 2024 Sunday Times rich list with a combined wealth of £37.196bn.

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