Four Hinduja family members sentenced to prison term for exploiting staff

Four members of the affluent Hinduja family were sentenced by a Swiss criminal court on Friday to prison terms ranging from four to 4.5 years for exploiting vulnerable domestic workers. However, the court dismissed the more severe human trafficking charges.
Indian-born tycoon Prakash Hinduja, his wife, son and daughter-in-law were accused of trafficking their domestic staff, predominantly illiterate Indians, who worked at their luxurious lakeside villa in Geneva. The family members were not present in court; however, Najib Ziazi, their business manager, attended and received an 18-month suspended sentence.
The Hindujas said that they were appalled by the Swiss court’s ruling of jail terms for some members in Geneva and added that an appeal had been filed in a higher court, challenging the verdict.
The court had earlier found the Hindujas guilty of workers’ exploitation and unauthorised employment but had dismissed the trafficking charges, citing that the staff were aware of the terms of their employment.
The Hinduja family members were accused of confiscating workers’ passports, paying them in Indian rupees rather than in Swiss francs, restricting their movement and forcing them to work excessively-long hours for minimal pay in Switzerland. Last week, it was revealed in court that the family had reached an undisclosed settlement with the plaintiffs. Geneva prosecutors had launched the probe over alleged illegal activities, including exploitation, human trafficking and violations of Swiss labour laws.
The family has resided in Switzerland for decades, and Prakash Hinduja had been previously convicted in 2007 on similar but lesser charges. Despite this, prosecutors claimed that he continued employing individuals without proper documentation.

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