The billionaire Hinduja family: Who they are, their companies, and the scandal - Hindustan Times
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The billionaire Hinduja family: Who they are, their companies, and the scandal

By | Edited by Abhyjith K. Ashokan
Jun 19, 2024 05:20 PM IST

The UK’s billionaire Hinduja family battles possible jail terms for allegedly spending more on their pet dog than on one of their servants.

As the UK’s billionaire Hinduja family battles possible jail terms for alleged human trafficking and staff exploitation at their Swiss villa, a Livemint report takes a look at who they are and what companies they own.

Indian-Swiss billionaire family members Namrata Hinduja (3rdR) and Ajay Hinduja (2ndR) arrive at the Geneva's courthouse with their lawyers Yael Hayat (L) and Robert Assael (2ndL) at the opening day of their trial for human trafficking on January 15, 2024. (AFP)
Indian-Swiss billionaire family members Namrata Hinduja (3rdR) and Ajay Hinduja (2ndR) arrive at the Geneva's courthouse with their lawyers Yael Hayat (L) and Robert Assael (2ndL) at the opening day of their trial for human trafficking on January 15, 2024. (AFP)

Who are the Hindujas?

The Hinduja family, which controls the Hinduja Group with interests in trucks, lubricants, banking and cable television among others, was worth $20 billion as of November 2023, according to Forbes.

The family was the seventh richest in India in 2023, the 146th richest in the world in 2022, and were dropped off the list in 2023. They were also the 12th richest in Asia in 2017.

Gopichand Hinduja, the second oldest Hinduja sibling, took over as chairman after his older brother Srichand Hinduja died in May 2023. All the remaining three siblings are British citizens, with Gopichand living in London, Prakash in Monaco and Ashok in Mumbai.

Also Read | Hindujas spent more on pet dog than a servant’s salary, kept their passports: ‘Couldn’t leave house…'

The history

The Hinduja brothers' father, Parmanand Deepchand Hinduja, started off trading goods in Shikarpur town in the Sindh region of British India (now Pakistan), later moving his merchant banking and trade businesses to Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1914 and opening an international office in Iran in 1919, according to the company’s official website.

The brothers shifted their base to London in 1979, where it remains to this day. The website claims the group employs 200,000 people worldwide.

The eldest son, Srichand P Hinduja, took over in November 1935, and is credited with founding IndusInd Bank.

Current Chairman Gopichand took the helm in May 2023 and is credited with the Group's forays into the power and infrastructure sectors.

The Hinduja Group companies

  • Hinduja Housing Finance Ltd
  • Ashok Leyland
  • Switch Mobility
  • Ashok Leyland Foundries – a division of Ashok Leyland, also known as Hinduja Foundries
  • P D Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Centre
  • Hinduja Healthcare Limited
  • Hinduja Bank (Switzerland) Ltd (formerly Amas Bank)
  • IndusInd Bank
  • Hinduja Leyland Finance Ltd
  • Hinduja Global Solutions Ltd
  • Hinduja Tech Ltd
  • GOCL Corporation Ltd
  • Gulf Oil International Ltd
  • Gulf Oil Lubricants India Limited
  • Quaker-Houghton International Ltd
  • Gulf Oil Middle East Ltd
  • Hinduja National Power Corporation Ltd
  • Hinduja Renewables Energy Private Ltd
  • Hinduja Realty Ventures Ltd
  • Hinduja Group India Limited
  • KPB Hinduja College of Commerce
  • NXTDIGITAL Ltd (formerly Hinduja Ventures Ltd) – includes Nxtdigital Hits, OneOTT iNtertainment Ltd, INE, and INDigital
  • Cyqurex Systems Private Limited
  • British Metal Corporation (India) Pvt Ltd
  • Hinduja Investments and Project Services Ltd

Also Read | Ajay Hinduja on Swiss human-trafficking trial says nanny was like a ‘second mum’ to family

The scandal

Ajay Hinduja, his wife Namrata Hinduja, and Ajay Hinduja’s parents Prakash and Kamal Hinduja, are accused of spending more on their pet dog than on one of their servants, according to a Swiss prosecutor, Bloomberg reported.

The prosecutor, Yves Bertossa, is pushing for prison sentences of up to five and a half years over alleged trafficking and exploitation of Indian staff at their villa on Lake Geneva.

One woman reportedly earned as little as 7 Swiss francs ( 660.5) for an 18-hour workday, seven days a week. Meanwhile, a budget document titled “Pets" revealed that the family spent 8,584 Swiss francs ( 8.1 lakh) annually on their dog.

The Hinduja family's lawyers countered Bertossa's claims and argued that remuneration included board and lodgings and not just cash. Lawyer Yael Hayat, representing Ajay Hinduja, claimed the prosecutor exaggerated the working hours, adding that one worker considered the Geneva pay favourable compared to India.

During the trial, Ajay testified he was unaware of the detailed working conditions as the Hinduja Group in India managed recruitment. He noted that staff are now hired locally through a third party and not informally.

Bertossa has called for five-and-a-half-year sentences for Prakash and Kamal and four and a half years for Ajay and his wife, Namrata. He also demanded the family pay 1 million Swiss francs ( 9.43 crore) in court costs and 3.5 million francs ( 33.02 crore) into a compensation fund for the staff.

The criminal trial continues despite the family reaching a deal last week that led to the three plaintiffs dropping their civil case.

Also Read | Swiss cheese, chocolate, watches will soon become cheaper. Know how

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