Members of Britain's richest family get jail terms for exploiting Indian staff at Switzerland mansion

GENEVA - A Swiss court handed jail sentences to four members of Britain’s richest family on June 21 for exploiting Indian staff at their Geneva mansion.

The Hindujas – who were not present in court – were acquitted of human trafficking, but convicted on other charges in a stunning verdict for the family, whose fortune is estimated at £37 billion (S$63 billion).

Prakash Hinduja and his wife Kamal Hinduja each got four years and six months, while their son Ajay and his wife Namrata received four-year terms, the presiding judge in Geneva ruled.

The cases stem from the family’s practice of bringing servants from their native India and included accusations of confiscating their passports once they were flown to Switzerland.

Prosecutors argued the Hindujas paid their staff a pittance and gave them little freedom to leave the house.

The family denied the allegations, claiming the prosecutors wanted to “do in the Hindujas”.

The Hindujas reached a confidential out-of-court settlement with the three employees who made the accusations against them.

Despite this, the prosecution decided to pursue the case due to the gravity of the charges.

Geneva prosecutor Yves Bertossa had requested a custodial sentence of five and a half years against Prakash and Kamal Hinduja.

Aged 78 and 75 respectively, both had been absent since the start of the trial for health reasons.

In his closing address, the prosecutor accused the family of abusing the “asymmetrical situation” between powerful employer and vulnerable employee to save money.

Household staff were paid a salary between 220 and 400 Swiss francs (S$330 and S$600) a month, far below what they could expect to earn in Switzerland.

“They’re profiting from the misery of the world,” Mr Bertossa told the court.

‘Not mistreated slaves’

But the Hinduja family’s defence lawyers argued that the three plaintiffs received ample benefits, were not kept in isolation and were free to leave the villa.

“We are not dealing with mistreated slaves,” Mr Nicolas Jeandin told the court.

Indeed, the employees “were grateful to the Hindujas for offering them a better life”, his fellow lawyer, Mr Robert Assael, argued.

members of britain's richest family get jail terms for exploiting indian staff at switzerland mansion

Lawyers Yael Hayat (centre right), Robert Assael (third from right) and Nicolas Jeandin (second from right) arrive at court with their clients Ajay Hinduja (second from left) and his wife Namrata (centre left). PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Representing Ajay Hinduja, lawyer Yael Hayat had slammed the “excessive” indictment, arguing the trial should be a question of “justice, not social justice”.

Namrata Hinduja’s lawyer, Mr Romain Jordan, also pleaded for acquittal, claiming the prosecutors were aiming to make an example of the family.

He argued the prosecution had failed to mention payments made to staff on top of their cash salaries.

“No employee was cheated out of his or her salary,” Mr Assael added.

Some staff even asked for raises, which they received.

With interests in oil and gas, banking and healthcare, the Hinduja Group is present in 38 countries and employs around 200,000 people. AFP

OTHER NEWS

Just now

Nasdaq slips 2.7%, on pace for its worst trading day of 2024

Just now

Q and A with Newly Hired Rocket Head Coach Pascal Vincent

Just now

Liz Truss mocked by MP who beat her as everyone makes same joke over King's Speech verdict

Just now

The 2024 Primetime Emmy Nominations

Just now

US imports of Canadian crude hits record high following TMX startup

Just now

Gulf states condemn rare Oman attack claimed by Daesh

Just now

Fed’s Barkin wants to move ‘deliberately’ on interest rates

Just now

What tighter U.S. export rules would mean for ASML and other global chip firms

Just now

McDonald’s $5 value meals lure back inflation-battered customers as Starbuck’s, Chili’s also see boost: survey

Just now

Supermodel Paulina Porizkova strips down to her bra and underwear as she admits she felt nothing but 'endless freaking shame' after turning 50

Just now

Video: The pittance Jackie Kennedy Onassis' grandson Jack Schlossberg is being paid for his new Vogue writing gig

Just now

Video: Tears of a returning hero: Ukrainian POW sinks to his knees and weeps uncontrollably as he reaches his homeland after prisoner swap with Russia

Just now

Knife-wielding man shot dead near Republican National Convention

Just now

2024 Emmy Awards nominations: ‘Shōgun’ and ‘The Bear’ take spotlight

Just now

You could save $10,000 on a new car loan if you have this credit score

Just now

Immigration is taking center stage in Texas’ Senate race. Here’s what Colin Allred, Ted Cruz’s records show.

Just now

New Texas national park helps tell the history of the state's school districts

Just now

Selma Blair recalls ‘horrifying and humiliating’ plane outburst

Just now

Disney World attraction returns following character's name change over fears it may have been offensive

Just now

Amazon Prime Day drives $7.2B in spending on first day of sales event

Just now

First-time homebuyers are often overwhelmed by unexpected homeownership costs: study

Just now

Social Security just announced a change for millions of beneficiaries

Just now

Costco goes viral for 'apocalypse dinner kit' that could last up to 25 years

Just now

Kevin O’Leary details how he would fire the Secret Service chief

Just now

Nearly 7,000 pounds of hot dogs recalled due to lack of inspection

Just now

Biden accidentally announces $55 cap rent rises after struggling to read '5%' on teleprompter

Just now

Shogun, The Bear lead nominees for TV’s Emmy awards

Just now

Captain Trbojevic's giddy acceptance speech

Just now

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes reflects on last season: "We didn't play our best football"

Just now

You might think you’re ‘helping’, but leave the plate-stacking to the professionals

Just now

Facts about Trump assassination attempt: What's real, what's not and how we know

Just now

Democrats Accelerating Joe Biden Nomination Sparks Outrage

Just now

No Man's Sky Is Getting A Complete Universal Refresh In One Of Its Biggest Updates Ever

Just now

Who are the leading contenders to be 2024 Hurler of the Year?

Just now

The play that changed my life: ‘Comedians got me the job running the National Theatre’

Just now

Is Bill Belichick still planning to coach in 2025?

Just now

‘I broke Nazi codes in the war – then Britain stole my pension’

Just now

Emmy Nominations 2024 Are Finally Here: See the Complete List

Just now

Patriots DE Keion White could have major breakout role in 2024

Just now

Ex-Trump adviser Peter Navarro is released from prison and is headed to Milwaukee to address the RNC

ALONGWALKER VIETNAM: Kênh khám phá trải nghiệm của giới trẻ, thế giới du lịch ALONGWALKER INDONESIA: Saluran untuk mengeksplorasi pengalaman para pemuda global