Billionaire Hinduja Family Members Get 4.5 Years In Swiss Prison For Exploiting House Staff

Published 23 days ago
By Forbes | Ty Roush
Opening Day Of The World Economic Forum (WEF) 2017
Prakash Hinduja, European chairman of the Hinduja Group, speaks on a mobile device between sessions during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. World leaders, influential executives, bankers and policy makers attend the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos from Jan. 17 - 20. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

TOPLINE

A Swiss court sentenced four members of the billionaire Hinduja family to up to four-and-a-half years in prison on Friday, after they were found guilty of exploiting household staff at their Lake Geneva home, including forcing them to work 18-hour days for low pay, according to multiple reports—though members of the family were acquitted on human trafficking charges.

KEY FACTS

Prakash Hinduja and his wife Kamal were sentenced to four and a half years in prison, while their son Ajay and his wife Namrata received four-year sentences after they were each found guilty of exploitation and illegal employment.

Workers at the Hinduja family’s Lake Geneva home alleged they were paid $8 for an entire 18-hour shift, an amount less than one-tenth required under Swiss law.

Advertisement

The family members faced criminal charges of human trafficking for allegations they illegally brought the household staff in and out of Switzerland after confiscating their passports and prevented them from leaving the Swiss property.

Human trafficking charges against the Hinduja family were dropped after the court reportedly ruled the staff partially understood what was happening to them.

Attorneys representing the four family members said they would appeal the court’s decision, according to the BBC,

FORBES VALUATION

The Hinduja family has an estimated net worth of $20 billion as of October, and was ranked 7th on Forbes’ list of India’s Richest last year. The family controls the Hinduja group, a multinational conglomerate founded in 1914 with interests in shipping, banking and media. Most of the family’s fortune is generated from the group’s investments across sectors like oil, healthcare and real estate, after several decades of trading goods in India. Prakash and Kamal live in Monaco, and the family owns real estate in London—including the Raffles London hotel—and Mumbai.

Advertisement

KEY BACKGROUND

Some of the household staff filed civil suits against the Hinduja family, alleging they were exploited while working at the Lake Geneva home. The workers settled with the family earlier this week, though the terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Swiss prosecutor Yves Bertossa reportedly alleged the family spent more money on their family dog than they did on the workers, whose contracts didn’t specify working hours or days off. The Hinduja family denied the claims, while family attorney Romain Jordan said the Swiss prosecutors had a “fantasized” version of events, according to Bloomberg.