UK?s richest family on trial for human trafficking

Four members of the Hinduja family, the richest family in the UK, are facing charges in Switzerland related to the treatment of their domestic staff.

 

The allegations include exploitation and human trafficking, with claims that servants from India were paid low wages, worked long hours, and had their passports confiscated.

 

The trial has brought to light the stark contrast between the family’s alleged spending on their dog and the daily wages of their servants, with allegations claiming they spent more money caring for their dog than their servants.

 

The family own a villa in Geneva’s wealthy neighbourhood of Cologny, and the charges against them all relate to their practice of importing servants from India to look after their children and household.

 

It’s alleged that Prakash and Kamal Hinduja, together with their son Ajay and his wife Namrata, confiscated staff passports, paid them as little as $8 (£7) for 18-hour days, and allowed them little freedom to leave the house.

 

Although a financial settlement over exploitation was reached last week, the Hindujas remain on trial for trafficking, which is a serious criminal offence in Switzerland.

 

They deny the charges.

 

This week in court, one of Geneva’s most famous prosecutors, Yves Bertossa, compared the almost $10,000 a year he claimed the family had spent on their dog, to the daily amount they were allegedly paying their servants.

 

The Hinduja family’s lawyers did not specifically deny the allegations of low wages, but said they must be viewed in context – noting that the staff were also receiving accommodation and food.

 

The charge of long hours was also disputed, with one defence lawyer arguing that watching a film with the Hinduja children could not really be classed as work.

 

Some former servants testified for the Hindujas, describing them as a friendly family who treated their servants with dignity. But the allegations that servants’ passports were confiscated and that they could not even leave the house without permission, are serious because they could be judged as human trafficking.

 

Mr Bertossa is calling for prison terms, and millions of dollars in compensation as well as legal fees.

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