A Swiss court on Friday sentenced Indian-born business tycoon Prakash Hinduja and three other members of his family to four and a half years in prison after finding them guilty of exploiting their domestic workers. The court threw out the severe charges of human trafficking, AP reported.

Prakash Hinduja, his wife Kamal, son Ajay and daughter-in-law Namrata, were accused of trafficking of their servants(Mint)

Besides Hinduja, his wife Kamal, son Ajay and daughter-in-law Namrata, were accused of trafficking of their servants, mostly illiterate Indians who were working at their lakeside villa in the Swiss city Geneva. 

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The fifth accused Najib Ziazi, the Hinduja family’s business manager, was handed an 18-month suspended sentence. 

According to the report, the court found the Hindujas guilty of exploiting their workers and providing ‘unauthorised’ employment. Besides this, the family was accused of seizing their staffs’ passports, paying them in rupees and not Swiss Francs, preventing them from leaving the villa and forcing them to work long hours in Switzerland. 

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Last week, it was reported that the Hindujas had made an undisclosed settlement with the plaintiffs. 

The prosecutors had opened the case of alleged illegal activity including exploitation, human trafficking and violation of Swiss labour laws, the report added.

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According to the AP report, Swiss authorities have already seized diamonds, rubies, a platinum necklace and other jewelry and assets from the Hindujas in anticipation that they could be used to pay for legal fees and possible penalties.

According to the prosecutors, the workers were forced to work up to 18 hours a day with little or no vacation time off and for pay that was equal to less than one-tenth of the comparable amount required under Swiss law.

The employees claimed to have worked later for receptions and made to sleep in the basement of the villa. They alleged a ‘climate of fear’ under Prakash Hinduja’s wife Kamal. The employees spoke only in Hindi and were paid wages in Indian currency in banks back home that they were unable to access.