Four of Britain's richest family jailed in Switzerland for exploiting servants

The family lived in a lakeside villa in Geneva. Credit: Pixabay

Four members of Britain's richest family have been handed prison sentences in Switzerland for exploiting servants working in their luxury villa.

Prakash Hinduja and his wife, Kamal, were jailed for four and a half years each, while their son, Ajay, and his wife, Namrata, both received four years in prison.

They banned the workers, mostly illiterate and from India, from leaving the villa and forced them to work excruciatingly long days, sometimes up to 18 hours.

The court found the four guilty of exploiting the workers, paying them wages less than a tenth of the income for domestic work in Switzerland.

The Hindujas were not found guilty of charges of trafficking, on the grounds the staff in part understood what they were getting into.

The family topped this year's Sunday Times Rich List of the United Kingdom's wealthiest people, with a net worth of around £37.2 billion.

Lawyers of the accused, Nicolas Jeandin, left, and Robert Assael, right, leave the court house after a break in the reading of the verdict. Credit: AP

They did not attend court, but a fifth defendent - the family's business manager Najib Ziazi - was present, and received an 18-month suspended sentence.

Employees slept in the basement of the villa, in the Cologny neighbourhood of Geneva, and said Kamal Hinduja instilled a "climate of fear".

They also had their passports seized and were paid with rupees into banks back home that they could not access.

The Hindujas moved to Switzerland in the late 1980s. Prakash Hinduja was convicted on less serious but similar charges in 2007.

Along with three of of his brothers, Prakash Hinduja is a leader of an industrial conglomerate in sectors including information technology, media, power, real estate and healthcare.

Swiss authorities have seized diamonds, rubies, a platinum necklace and other assets from the family, as they could be used to pay for legal fees and possible penalties.

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