Billionaire Hinduja Family Accused Of Exploiting Staff At Swiss Villa: Report

The passports of the household staff were confiscated by the Hinduja family and they were not allowed to leave the house without the employer's permission, it's alleged.

Billionaire Hinduja Family Accused Of Exploiting Staff At Swiss Villa: Report

Prosecutors are pushing for years-long sentence for four members of Hinduja Family

The billionaire Hinduja family has been accused of exploiting household staff at their villa on Lake Geneva, confiscating their passports and paying $8 for 15-18 hours of work.

A human trafficking trial began Monday in Switzerland against four members of the Hinduja family, days after they reached a deal which saw three plaintiffs dropping the civil suit against the family, Bloomberg reported.

The trial involves allegations that the billionaire family confiscated the passports of their staff and didn't allow anyone to leave the house without permission. They were paid for their work in India, so they had no Swiss money when visiting the country, Bloomberg reported.

One prosecutor accused the Hindujas of spending more on their pet dog than they paid one member of their staff, according to the report.

Referring to a budget document called "Pets", Prosecutor Yves Bertossa told the court that a female staff was paid as little as 7 Swiss francs ($7.84) for a working day that stretched from 15 to18 hours, seven days a week.

It was less than what they spent on their family dog in a year, which amounted to 8,584 Swiss francs, he said.

The prosecutors are pushing for years-long sentences for four members of the family - Prakash Hinduja, his wife Kamal, their son Ajay and his wife Namrata.

Yves Bertossa also demanded that the family shell out 1 million Swiss francs in court costs and also put in 3.5 million francs for a compensation fund for the staff, the report said.

The Hindujas' lawyer has dismissed the allegations, saying that the family was not involved in the hiring or day-to-day handling of the staff.

In a statement to Forbes, Romain Jordan - an attorney for the Hindujas, accused the prosecutors of "bias" against the billionaire family.

"No other family would have been treated in this way. Our clients remain determined to defend themselves and have confidence in the judicial system," Mr Jordan told Forbes.

"The salary can't simply be reduced to what they were paid in cash," given their board and lodgings were covered," Bloomberg quoted another family lawyer Yael Hayat as saying. Mr Hayat said the claims of an 18-hour work day were an exaggeration.

The Hinduja family, ranked among India's richest with an estimated net worth of $20 billion, controls the multinational conglomerate the Hinduja group, with interests in shipping, banking, media and other industries, besides real estate in London.