Meet the UK’s richest family, the Hindujas, worth US$47.5 billion (2024)

Keeping up with the Hindujas: the UK’s richest family has just been convicted of exploitation and it’s not their first scandal – they’ve also been accused of human trafficking, unpaid taxes and bribes

Four members of the UK’s richest family are in hot water in Switzerland over charges they mistreated their domestic staff.

Per the BBC, workers at the Hindujas’ Lake Geneva residence brought over from India alleged that they were overworked and underpaid. They also claimed that their passports were confiscated, they slept in a windowless basem*nt room, and that they could not leave the villa without permission.

Meet the UK’s richest family, the Hindujas, worth US$47.5 billion (1)

Swiss prosecutor Yves Bertossa said the family spent more on their dog than on their servants during the trial at a Swiss court that ultimately convicted the Hindujas of exploitation, per the BBC.

The Hindujas were acquitted of human trafficking, reportedly because the workers knew what they were getting into. The wealthy family, Swiss-based members of which include Prakash and Kamal Hinduja, their son Ajay and his wife Namrata Hinduja, are now facing jail terms, but they intend to appeal their sentences. A spokesperson claimed after the hearing that the complainants had been “led into signing statements that they didn’t understand”, per Business Standard.

So, who are the Hindujas, and how did they accumulate their wealth? Here’s what we know:

How did the Hindujas get so rich?

The Hinduja family runs the multinational conglomerate Hinduja Group and is currently the wealthiest family in the UK with a fortune of US$47.5 billion, according to the recently updated Sunday Times Rich List.

According to newspaper, the Hinduja Group operates in 48 countries across sectors including automotive manufacturing, oil, IT, finance, real estate, media and more. The business was founded by Parmanand Hinduja, who began commodities trading in India’s Sindh region (now Pakistan) before moving its headquarters to Iran and eventually London. His sons expanded the business globally after his death in 1971.

Meet the UK’s richest family, the Hindujas, worth US$47.5 billion (3)

Hinduja Group is now owned by his sons Gopichand Hinduja (UK-based), Prakash Hinduja (Switzerland-based), and Ashok Hinduja (India-based) after the death of Srichand Hinduja from dementia last year, per ABC. Speaking about his phenomenal wealth, Gopichand once said, “If you consider one to be rich because of his money, you are wrong. I consider someone to be rich if he has good friends, good contacts, good relationships.”

The Hindujas’ biggest controversies

Meet the UK’s richest family, the Hindujas, worth US$47.5 billion (4)

AP reports that in 2018, an investigation was previously launched into Swiss-based Prakash on charges of human trafficking and usury, and that he was also looked into for tax avoidance in a separate case where it was alleged he might owe the Geneva region as much as US$204 million in back taxes.

The Hindujas were also involved in the so-called Bofors scandal – a major weapons-contract political scandal between India and Sweden – but allegations against them were dismissed by the Delhi High Court in 2005, per The Guardian. Another scandal known as the Hinduja affair saw UK minister Peter Mandelson forced to resign over allegations that he had helped fast track Srichand Hinduja’s British citizenship after the billionaire donated money to a government project.

They bought a house from the late Queen

Meet the UK’s richest family, the Hindujas, worth US$47.5 billion (5)

The Hindujas are rich in real estate too. Gopichand Hinduja bought the former head office of the Crown Estate from the late Queen Elizabeth for US$85 million in 2006, per UK media. He reportedly spent another US$51 million to restore the building.

The lavish 60-room home is located at Carlton House Terrace in London, close to Buckingham Palace. It serves as the Hinduja family home, including at least 30 relatives.

Meet the UK’s richest family, the Hindujas, worth US$47.5 billion (6)

The Hindujas also recently relaunched London’s historic Old War Office (OWO) as the splendid Raffles OWO hotel after spending US$2 billion on its restoration.

Shanu Hinduja spoke up against gender inequality in business

Meet the UK’s richest family, the Hindujas, worth US$47.5 billion (7)

Shanu Hinduja, daughter of the late Srichand Hinduja, currently acts as the chair of Geneva-based Hinduja Bank and the Hinduja Foundation in the US, as well as the co-chair and director of Hinduja Global Solutions Inc. Back in 2020, she spoke up against gender inequality in Indian business families after the Hinduja brothers entered into a heated asset battle over the family’s then-US$11.2 billion fortune, saying it was due to “the growth of money, wealth and the power of money that family members hold”, per The Economic Times.

Meet the UK’s richest family, the Hindujas, worth US$47.5 billion (8)

She also brought up the “toxic culture” against women created by bankers, saying female entrepreneurs were too often disregarded by a “deeply patriarchal” system that denied funding for their ventures. She also said that it was especially hard for mothers, as they are judged by male investors who underestimate their focus on business in light of their families.

Meet the UK’s richest family, the Hindujas, worth US$47.5 billion (9)

Meet the UK’s richest family, the Hindujas, worth US$47.5 billion (2024)

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