Britain’s richest family sentenced after exploiting staff in Swiss mansion | Switzerland

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

The Hindujas, who were not present in court, were acquitted of human trafficking but convicted of other charges on Friday in a stunning verdict for the family, whose fortune is estimated at £37bn.

Prakash Hinduja and his wife, Kamal, were each sentenced to four years and six months in prison, and their son Ajay and his wife, Namrata, received four-year terms.

The case stemmed from the family’s practice of bringing servants from their native India and included accusations of confiscating the staff’s passports once they had arrived in Switzerland.

Prosecutors argued that 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 had made the accusations against them, but the prosecution decided to pursue the case owing to the gravity of the charges.

The Geneva prosecutor Yves Bertossa requested custodial sentences of five and a half years for 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 of between 220 and 400 Swiss francs (£195-£350) a month, far below what they could otherwise expect to earn in Switzerland. “They’re profiting from the misery of the world,” Bertossa told the court.

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,” Nicolas Jeandin told the court.

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

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

Namrata Hinduja’s lawyer, Romain Jordan, also pleaded for acquittal, claiming the prosecutors were aiming to make an example of the family. He argued that the prosecution had failed to mention payments made to staff on top of their cash salaries.

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

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


Read original article here

Denial of responsibility! Secular Times is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a Comment