U.K.’s richest family accused of keeping staff in modern slavery - FreedomUnited.org

U.K.’s richest family accused of keeping staff in modern slavery

  • Published on
    June 18, 2024
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  • Category:
    Domestic Slavery, Human Trafficking
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Four members of the Hinduja family, worth an estimated combined total of $47bn and currently the U.K.’s richest family, went on trial in Switzerland for labor exploitation and human trafficking. The charges centered around claims that they illegally brought staff in and out of Switzerland after confiscating their passports. They also imposed exploitative working terms — all hallmarks of modern slavery.

More money spent caring for the dog than workers

Prakash and Kamal Hinduja, together with their son Ajay and his wife Namrata were accused of keeping the staff for their Switzerland home living in modern slavery. According to the prosecution, the employers confiscated the staff’s passports upon arrival and did not allow them to leave the house without permission. In addition, the employers paid them for their work in India, not in Switzerland where they were living. This meant they had no Swiss money they could use for themselves while in Switzerland, severely limiting their freedom and mobility.

According to the BBC,

“…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.”

Some staff were allegedly paid as little as $8 for 18-hour days. A lawyer for the prosecution pointed to a document titled ‘Pets’ which appears to show the family spent almost $10,000 a year on their dog — an amount far larger than the annual salary of the working staff.

Despite denials, signs point to slavery

One of the defense attorneys told the Swiss court that while the idea of ‘breaking the rich to make the poor less poor’ is attractive, the prosecutor’s office is conflating justice with social justice. However, where there is smoke, there is fire.

NDTV reports,

“Contracts for the staff reportedly did not specify working hours or days off but required them to be available as needed by the family.”

Paltry wages, confiscated passports, and a lack of freedom of movement with contractual ambiguity paints a classic picture of modern slavery. And despite denying the charges, the Hidujas reached a financial settlement over exploitation charges last week. They also no longer pay staff informally and now hire all staff using a local third party.

Prosecutors asked for lengthy prison sentences for Prakash Hinduja, his wife Kamal, their son Ajay, and his wife Namrata. According to reports, they also wanted the family to pay for court costs and set up a compensation fund for the staff affected.

Despite the evidence, the Hidujas were convicted for exploitation but acquitted for trafficking. Nevertheless, the court sentenced Prakash and Kamal to four and a half years in prison, while Ajay and Namrata received four-year sentences. Additionally, they were ordered to pay approximately $950,000 in compensation and about $300,000 in procedural fees.

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Bharat Gupta
22 days ago

Such exploiters should never be spared. It’s appalling that such rich people stoop so low to deny minimal wages to those who take care of their day to day cooking and other needs.
The appellate courts should uphold the prison sentry.

ROBERTO TEJEDA
ROBERTO TEJEDA
22 days ago

I simply cannot believe it… Worth 47bn and paying this misery to their staff and abusing them this way.. they deserve much more than 4-4.5 years in prison.

Anne Morris
Anne Morris
22 days ago

It’s unbelievable that such cruelty and exploitation could occur in a country that purports to be bound by the rule of law. Hopefully the prison sentences will serve as a deterrent to others.

Antonio Villar Iturre
Antonio Villar Iturre
22 days ago

Very greedy family. The government of Switzerland, plus all the sentences by the court, should confiscated all the assets of them, Send them back to where they belong.

MARK
MARK
22 days ago

This should have stopped a century ago! This wealthy family should have been imprisoned!!

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