Explainer: Will Hinduja Clan Face Prison Time in Switzerland Over Servant Exploitation

Hinduja clan, once ranked as Britain's richest family by 'The Sunday Times Rich List,' will now be facing prison time for illegally hiring and underpaying their staff

The Hinduja clan was sentenced to 4 years in prison after they were found guilty of exploiting Indian servants in Geneva, Switzerland. The sentence applies to all four members of the family, namely Prakash Hinduja, Kamal Hinduja, Ajay Hinduja and his wife Namrata.

The family was recently ranked among Britain's richest by 'The Sunday Times Rich List."

As per the court hearings, they exploited their Indian migrant servants by paying them far less than the average hourly rate in Switzerland.

The family was also accused of taking away the workers' passports and not allowing them to leave the family's residence. Some workers were paid in Indian currency and that too via banks present in India which they were unable to access.

How has the Hinduja family reacted

As per a report by PTI, the family has expressed dismay over the Swiss court's decision to impose jail time on family members and has initiated an appeal in a higher court to contest the verdict. The ruling found them guilty of exploiting domestic workers from India at their Geneva villa.

In a statement released on Friday, lawyers representing the family said that Prakash and Kamal Hinduja, both in their 70s, along with their son Ajay and his wife Namrata, were acquitted of all charges related to human trafficking.

“Our clients have been acquitted of all human trafficking charges. We are appalled and disappointed by the rest of the decision made in this court of first instance, and we have, of course, filed an appeal to the higher court, thereby making this part of the judgement not effective,” the official statement, signed by lawyers Yael Hayat and Robert Assael and Roman Jordan, read.

“Under Swiss law, the presumption of innocence is paramount till a final judgement by the highest adjudicating authority is enforced. Contrary to some media reports, there is no effective detention for any members of the family,” they said.

The lawyers have also pointed out that “it should also be recalled that the plaintiffs in this case had withdrawn their respective complaints after declaring to the court that they had never intended to be involved in such proceedings”.

What are the charges?

Following a hearing in Geneva, Swiss prosecutors brought forward allegations against the family for multiple offenses, including exploitation, human trafficking, and breaches of Switzerland’s labor laws.

During the trial, prosecutors claimed that the family spent more on their pet dog than on their staff members. Prakash Hinduja (78) and Kamal Hinduja (75), who were unable to attend due to health issues, were each sentenced to 4 and a half years of prison.

Ajay Hinduja and his wife Namrata, also absent from the courtroom, received 4-year sentences.

Najib Ziazi was also given an 18-month sentence for suspension. He was the business manager of the family.

While the legal representatives of the Hinduja clan have already contested these accusations, for now a resolution remains pending as the judicial process might continue further.

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