Prakash Hinduja, Chairman Europe, Hinduja Group, Switzerland. Photo courtesy: Richter Frank-Jurgen/Wikipedia

A court in Switzerland has found several members of the Hinduja family guilty of exploiting their Indian employees at their Geneva villa. The wealthiest family in the United Kingdom, with a reported net worth of USD 20 billion, now faces jail term stretching several years.

Prakash Hinduja, Chairman Europe, Hinduja Group, Switzerland. Photo courtesy: Richter Frank-Jurgen/Wikipedia

A judge found four members of the family guilty of illegal employment on Friday. However, the decision has been challenged in a higher court.

As per reports, the Swiss judge called the Hindujas “selfish” after listening to the case. Prosecutors alleged the family treated the employees inhumanly. The victims were paid a paltry sum of USD 8 for 18 hours of work every day. This is less than 1/10 of the sum assured to employees by Swiss law.

Reading out the sentence, the judge ordered four-year and six months’ jail term for Prakash Hinduja and his wife Kamal Hinduja. Their son Ajay and daughter-in-law Namrata received four-year terms each. The court heard that the family also took away the passports of their staff and seldom allowed them outside their villa, located in the wealthy neighbourhood of Cologny.

However, the judge acquitted them of human trafficking charges.

The Hindujas run businesses in 38 nations, ranging from oil and gas to banking and healthcare.

Prosecutors told the court that the Hindujas spent more on their pet dog than on their domestic help.

Meanwhile, the family has denied the allegations and stated they were “appalled” by the verdict and have filed a challenge in a higher court.

“We are appalled and disappointed by the rest of the decision made in this court of first instance, and we have of course filed an appeal to the higher court thereby making this part of the judgment not effective,” said a statement signed by the lawyers of the Hindujas, as reported by NDTV.

Reports stated that the family had earlier reached an out-of-court settlement with the three employees, but the prosecution went ahead with it due to the gravity of the charges.

While Prakash and Kamal Hinduja didn’t attend the court, Ajay and Namrata attended the trial. None of the family members, however, were present on Friday to hear the verdict.