4 Hinduja family members get jail terms for exploiting servants, mostly Indians, in Switzerland

  • A Swiss court has sentenced 4 Hinduja family members to over four years in jail for exploiting servants, mostly illiterate Indians, at their mansion in Geneva.

Livemint
Updated22 Jun 2024, 06:23 AM IST
A file photo of Prakash Hinduja. AFP
A file photo of Prakash Hinduja. AFP

A Swiss criminal court on Friday sentenced four members of the wealthy Hinduja family to between four and 4 1/2 years in prison for exploiting their vulnerable domestic workers.

The court, however, threw out the more severe charges of human trafficking.

The Swiss court said that the four – Prakash Hinduja and his wife, son and daughter-in-law -- were found guilty of exploiting workers and providing unauthorised employment.

But it dismissed the trafficking charges, saying that the staff understood what they were getting into.

They were accused of seizing workers’ passports, paying them in Indian rupees instead of Swiss francs, barring them from leaving the villa and forcing them to work excruciatingly long hours for a pittance in Switzerland.

The workers, mostly illiterate Indians, were employed at their luxurious lakeside villa in Geneva.

The family had set up a residence in Switzerland decades ago.

The four Hinduja family members were not present in court in Geneva at the time of judgement.

In 2007, Prakash was convicted on similar charges.

Last week, it emerged in criminal court that the family — which has roots in India — had reached an undisclosed settlement with the plaintiffs. Geneva prosecutors opened the case for alleged illegal activity, including exploitation, human trafficking and violation of Swiss labour laws.

Prosecutors said that at times, workers in jobs like cooks or house help were forced to work up to 18 hours a day with little or no vacation time off and for pay that was equal to less than one-tenth of the comparable amount required under Swiss law.

The staff worked even later hours for receptions and slept in the basement of the villa in the upscale Cologny neighbourhood -- sometimes on a mattress on the floor, added prosecutors.

Prakash Hinduja, who obtained Swiss citizenship in 2000, is also facing a separate tax case brought by Swiss authorities.

 

Also Read | Hindujas: A look at the billionaire family and their companies
Also Read | Hinduja Group begins bond sale to raise ₹7,300 cr for Reliance Capital: Report
Also Read | Govt should consider separate ministry for NRIs: Prakash Hinduja
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First Published:22 Jun 2024, 06:23 AM IST
HomeNewsworld4 Hinduja family members get jail terms for exploiting servants, mostly Indians, in Switzerland

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