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Billionaire Hinduja family accused exploiting staff, forcing overtime

Wed 19 Jun 2024    
The Brew News Team | 2 min read

Switzerland: Four members of the billionaire Hinduja family faced trial in Switzerland on Monday for human trafficking charges involving exploitation of household staff at their Lake Geneva villa. The accused—Prakash Hinduja, Kamal Hinduja, their son Ajay, and his wife Namrata—were alleged to have paid wages as low as $8 per day for workdays stretching 15 to 18 hours. They were also accused of confiscating passports of their employees, a claim disputed by their lawyer.

The trial commenced following a recent settlement of a long-standing civil case where the family resolved allegations of underpaying staff and making them work excessive hours. Details of the settlement were not disclosed, but it concluded six years after the civil suit was filed.

Prosecutors focused on accusations that the Hindujas brought staff to Switzerland illegally and restricted their movements by holding onto their passports. Allegedly, the employees were paid in India, which limited their financial independence in Switzerland.

Ajay Hinduja’s attorney, Yael Hayat, countered claims of extreme work hours, suggesting exaggeration, and argued that reported wages didn’t account for benefits like food and lodging provided by the family.

The prosecution sought substantial prison terms for all defendants and proposed establishing a compensation fund worth millions for the affected staff. Meanwhile, lawyers representing the Hinduja family asserted that the family members were not directly involved in hiring or managing staff day-to-day.

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Romain Jordan, speaking on behalf of the family, criticized the criminal charges as excessive and accused the prosecutor of bias against the Hindujas. He emphasized their commitment to defending themselves vigorously through the legal process.

The trial has attracted significant attention due to the prominence of the Hinduja family and the seriousness of the charges, which hinge on allegations of human trafficking and labor exploitation.

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