Swiss Judge Set to Rule in Hinduja Family Human-Trafficking Trial

A Swiss court is expected to issue a ruling on Friday on whether members of Britain’s wealthiest family are guilty of human trafficking over allegations they exploited domestic workers at a luxury villa in Geneva.

Prosecutors charged four members of the Hinduja family — Prakash Hinduja, Kamal Hinduja, Ajay Hinduja and Namrata Hinduja — and accused them of trafficking several workers from India, confiscating their passports and forcing them to work 16-hour days without overtime pay in the villa. Lawyers representing the Hindujas have denied the allegations.

The Hinduja family helms a multinational conglomerate with large holdings in automotive manufacturing, banking, oil and gas, real estate and health care. The Sunday Times of London recently estimated the family’s net worth to be 37 billion pounds, or $47 billion, and listed them as Britain’s richest family.

Arguments in the closely watched trial began on June 10, with the lead prosecutor, Yves Bertossa, claiming that the family had budgeted more for a pet than they had for the salary of one domestic worker, according to reports in the Swiss media.

Some domestic workers were paid as little as 10,000 rupees a month (about $120 today), according to the original indictment. It said many of the workers were from poor backgrounds in India and had toiled from “from dawn until late in the evening” without overtime pay. Their salaries — well below Geneva’s minimum wage for domestic workers — were paid into Indian bank accounts that they could not easily access, the indictment said.

Prosecutors alleged that the Hinduja family had confiscated the domestics workers’ passports and told them not to leave the villa, where they slept in bunk beds in a windowless basement room. The workers were expected to be available at all times, the indictment said, including on trips to France and Monaco where they toiled under the same conditions.

Romain Jordan, a lawyer representing the Hinduja family, rejected what he called the “exaggerated and biased allegations.”

“The members of the Hinduja family vigorously deny these allegations and remain determined to defend themselves,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

A civil case involving the key accusers, who worked for the family, was settled last week, according to Swiss media reports. Mr. Jordan declined to discuss the terms, but said that the agreement was “confidential,” and that the plaintiffs had withdrawn their complaints.

In the criminal case, where the judge is expected to rule on Friday, prosecutors are seeking prison sentences of up to five and a half years along with millions of francs in fines and compensation, according to the Swiss media.

Three Hinduja brothers head the family’s conglomerate, with two of them based in Britain and around Europe. The family owns extensive real estate in London, including a 25-bedroom residence and a five-star Raffles Hotel in a historic former government building, the Old War Office.

The most senior of the brothers, Srichand P. Hinduja, who was also joint chairman of the Hinduja Group, died in May last year at 87. Before his death, factions of the family had been involved in a protracted battle over the control of family assets.

Related Posts

How Donald Trump Picked J.D. Vance

How did J.D. Vance, once a harsh critic of Donald J. Trump, win Trump’s approval and become his choice for vice president? Jonathan Swan, a reporter covering…

Project 2025, Explained

A set of conservative policy proposals called Project 2025 has put into words what a second term for Donald J. Trump could look like. Trump has distanced…

Sailor Who Tried to Access Biden’s Medical Records Was Disciplined by Navy

A Navy sailor was disciplined for trying unsuccessfully to gain unauthorized access to President Biden’s restricted medical records earlier this year, a military official said on Tuesday….

Democrats, Swallowing Fears About Biden’s Candidacy, Remain Behind Him

Congressional Democrats indicated on Tuesday that they were unwilling — at least for now — to mount an effort to push aside President Biden despite grave concerns…

N.Y.U. Settles Lawsuit by Students Who Claimed Antisemitic Harassment

New York University will take a number of steps to respond to antisemitism as part of a legal settlement with three Jewish students who said they were…

Bloomberg’s $1 Billion Gift of Free Medical School Tuition Only Applies to Some

How rich is too rich to receive free tuition at medical school? That is the question raised by the $1 billion gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies to Johns…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *