The Hinduja Group is an Indian conglomerate company based in Mumbai, India and headquartered in London, the United Kingdom. The company is involved in a wide range of activities including foundries, import-export, trading, banking, call centres, healthcare and motor vehicles; most popular being the truck-maker Ashok Leyland.
The company was founded in 1914 by Parmanand Deepchandh Hinduja, who was from a Sindhi family based in India. Initially operating in Karachi and Mumbai, India, he set up the company’s first international operation in Iran in 1919. The headquarters of the group moved to Iran where it remained until 1979 when the Islamic Revolution forced it to move to Europe.
Srichand Hinduja and his brother Gopichand moved to London in 1979 to develop the export business; Prakash manages the group’s finances in Geneva, Switzerland while the youngest brother, Ashok, oversees the Indian interests. The third generation is also involved in the business. For example, Gopichand’s sons Sanjay and Dheeraj, oversee Gulf Oil and Ashok Leyland, respectively. Srichand’s daughter, Vinoo, oversees the P.D.Hinduja Hospital & Medical Research Centre, a non-profit hospital in Mumbai.
The family has had its fair share of controversies: arms-dealing bribes in the Bofors Scandal; to pulling favours to obtain British Citizenship for family members and even unconstitutional arms exportation to Sudan. However, for almost 50 years, the four Hinduja brothers, Srichand, Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok, have presented a united front to the world. Their main philosophy for managing and maintaining their combined $13 billion fortune, is based on the family’s golden rule of “Everything belongs to everyone and nothing belongs to anyone.”
However, everything is about to change as exalted family ideologies have come crashing down. Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok are locked in a legal battle with ailing patriarch Srichand, who claims sole ownership of the Hinduja Bank in Switzerland, where his older daughter Shanu Hinduja is chairman and her son Karam Hinduja is the chief executive. Although the bank is but a small part of the family’s overall assets, it is enough to expose cracks in the family’s fundamental principles, which is the bond holding the future of their wealth.
According to Srichand’s three brothers, his claim nullifies a 2014 declaration that the four brothers signed, which stated that the assets held by one belonged to all and that each would appoint the other brothers as the executor of his will. Shockingly, Srichand rejected the letter stating that “it doesn’t reflect his wishes and that the family’s assets should be separated.”
This began the heated legal battle initiated by Srichand, represented by his younger daughter Vinoo, contesting that the letter should have no legal bearing on inheritance matters and that it cannot be used as a will or a power of attorney. On the other hand, Srichand’s brothers claim the patriarch is suffering from a form of dementia and his health has been deteriorating for several years.
Although Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok claim the litigation would not have any impact on the group’s global businesses, the validity of their claim remains to be proved as Srichand and Vinoo are yet to agree with their sentiments.