Hindujas: From India to Iran and the UK — A look at the billionaire family and their companies

As the Hinduja family battles possible jail terms for alleged human trafficking and staff exploitation at their Swiss villa, we explain who the Hindujas are and what companies they own. Take a look.

Jocelyn Fernandes
First Published19 Jun 2024, 11:32 AM IST
Hindujas: A file photo of Gopichand P Hinduja, who took over as family and business patriarch of the Group after the death of older brother Srichand P Hinduja in 2023.
Hindujas: A file photo of Gopichand P Hinduja, who took over as family and business patriarch of the Group after the death of older brother Srichand P Hinduja in 2023.(Bloomberg)

Hindujas: The UK's billionaire Hinduja family is in the spotlight as family members face possible jail terms in Switzerland. Swiss authorities have accused them of human trafficking and staff exploitation at their villa overlooking Lake Geneva.

Ajay Hinduja, the scion of the family's Swiss-based branch, refuted allegations that he forced an Indian nanny to work 18-hour days without leave, calling the claim “idiotic” and describing her “like a second mum” to his kids, Bloomberg reported. The case also names his wife, Namrata, and parents, Prakash and Kamal.

Here's a closer look at who the Hindujas are and what companies they own. 

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Who are the Hindujas?

According to their Forbes profile, the Hinduja family, which controls the Hinduja Group, an MNC conglomerate, was worth $20 billion as of November 2023. The group has business interests in everything from trucks and lubricants to banking and cable television.

Second-generation patriarch Gopichand Hinduja took over as chairman after his older brother Srichand Hinduja died in May 2023. All UK citizens, Gopichand lives in London, with Prakash in Monaco and Ashok in Mumbai.

According to Forbes, the family was the seventh richest in India (2023), the 146th richest in the world in 2022, and dropped off the list in 2023. They were also the 12th richest in Asia in 2017.

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How did the business grow?

According to the group's website, the Hinduja brothers' father, Parmanand Deepchand Hinduja, traded goods in Shikarpur town in the Sindh region of British India (now Pakistan). He moved his merchant banking and trade businesses to Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1914 and opened an international office in Iran in 1919.

The brothers shifted their base to London in 1979, where it remains. The website claims the group employs 200,000 people worldwide.

His eldest son, Srichand P Hinduja, aka SP, took over in November 1935. He is credited with founding IndusInd Bank. Current Chairman Gopichand took the helm in May 2023 and is credited with the Group's forays into the power and infrastructure sectors.

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What are the Hinduja Group companies?

Hinduja Housing Finance Ltd

Ashok Leyland

Switch Mobility

Ashok Leyland Foundries – a division of Ashok Leyland, also known as Hinduja Foundries

P D Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Centre

Hinduja Healthcare Limited

Hinduja Bank (Switzerland) Ltd (formerly Amas Bank)

IndusInd Bank

Hinduja Leyland Finance Ltd

Hinduja Global Solutions Ltd

Hinduja Tech Ltd 

GOCL Corporation Ltd

Gulf Oil International Ltd

Gulf Oil Lubricants India Limited

Quaker-Houghton International Ltd

Gulf Oil Middle East Ltd

Hinduja National Power Corporation Ltd

Hinduja Renewables Energy Private Ltd

Hinduja Realty Ventures Ltd

Hinduja Group India Limited

KPB Hinduja College of Commerce

NXTDIGITAL Ltd (formerly Hinduja Ventures Ltd) – includes Nxtdigital Hits, OneOTT iNtertainment Ltd, INE, and INDigital

Cyqurex Systems Private Limited

British Metal Corporation (India) Pvt Ltd

Hinduja Investments and Project Services Ltd

Also Read | Hinduja family spent more on pet dog than a servant’s salary: Swiss prosecutor

The Swiss case: Human trafficking, low wages, long work hours

The Hinduja family — Ajay Hinduja, his wife Namrata Hinduja and other members Prakash Hinduja and Kamal Hinduja, are accused of spending more on their pet dog than on one of their servants, according to a Swiss prosecutor, Bloomberg reported. The prosecutor, Yves Bertossa, is pushing for prison sentences of up to five and a half years over alleged trafficking and exploitation of Indian staff at their villa on Lake Geneva.

"They spent more for one dog than one of their servants," he said. One woman reportedly earned as little as 7 Swiss francs ($7.84) for an 18-hour workday, seven days a week. A budget document titled “Pets” revealed that the family spent 8,584 Swiss francs annually on their dog.

The Hinduja family's lawyers countered Bertossa's claims and argued that remuneration included board and lodgings, not just cash. Lawyer Yael Hayat, representing Ajay Hinduja, claimed the prosecutor exaggerated the working hours, adding that one worker considered the Geneva pay favourable compared to India.

During the trial, Ajay testified he was unaware of the detailed working conditions as the Hinduja Group in India managed recruitment. He noted that staff are now hired locally through a third party and not informally.

Bertossa has called for five-and-a-half-year sentences for Prakash and Kamal and four and a half years for Ajay and his wife, Namrata. He also demanded the family pay 1 million Swiss francs in court costs and 3.5 million francs into a compensation fund for the staff.

The criminal trial continues despite the family reaching a deal last week that led to the three plaintiffs dropping their civil case. As is customary in Swiss trials, a verdict will be rendered by a panel of three judges.

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First Published:19 Jun 2024, 11:32 AM IST
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