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Sunday July 14, 2024

UK’s richest family get jail terms for exploiting staff at Swiss mansion

By AFP
June 22, 2024
Billionaire family members Namrata Hinduja (left) and Ajay Hinduja (second from right) arrive at the Geneva’s courthouse with their lawyers. — AFP
Billionaire family members Namrata Hinduja (left) and Ajay Hinduja (second from right) arrive at the Geneva’s courthouse with their lawyers. — AFP

GENEVA: A Swiss court handed jail sentences to four members of Britain´s richest family on Friday 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 pounds ($47 billion).

Prakash and his wife Kamal Hinduja each got four 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.