The 2014 document says that the assets held by one brother belong to all, and that each man will appoint the others as their executors. But now Srichand Hinduja, 84, the patriarch of the family, and his daughter, Vinoo, want the letter to be declared worthless.
The dispute between the UK-based family came to light in a ruling delivered on Tuesday by a London judge, who said the three other brothers, Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok, tried to use the letter to take control of Hinduja Bank — an asset that was in Srichand’s sole name. Srichand and Vinoo want the London court to rule that the letter should have “no legal effect” and cannot be used as a will, the judge said.
‘Litigation will not impact business’
Srichand Hinduja’s daughter Vinoo said that her father had insisted as early as 2016 that the July letter doesn’t reflect his wishes and that the family’s assets should be separated. A lawyer for Srichand didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.
In a statement, the three brothers said that the litigation will have no impact on their businesses. “It will be apparent from the Judgment of the High Court in England, that Mr S P Hinduja’s health has been deteriorating for a number of years… Vinoo, his younger daughter, acting as his Litigation Friend is bringing these proceedings on his behalf. It is very unfortunate that these proceedings are taking place as they go against our founder’s and family’s values and principles that have stood for many decades, especially, ‘everything belongs to everyone and nothing belongs to anyone’. We intend to defend the claim to uphold these dearly held family values,” they said in an emailed statement.
If the claim succeeds, then all assets in Srichand’s name would pass on to his daughter and her immediate family, including the entire shareholding in Hinduja Bank, the three brothers had said, according to the ruling. The judge noted that Srichand lacks capacity to give instructions to his lawyers and appointed Vinoo to act on his behalf.
The Hinduja family are among the world’s richest. The bulk of their fortune derives from Hinduja Group, the closely held conglomerate whose origins trace back more than a century that today has investments spanning finance, media and healthcare in almost 40 countries, according to its website. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index values the family fortune at $11.2 billion.
The four Hinduja siblings now help run the Mumbai-based group, which suffered in the economic turmoil stemming from the pandemic. Shares in Ashok Leyland Ltd, the Indian truck maker controlled by Hinduja Group’s automotive unit, fell more than a third in March. The global slowdown in travel also hurt the group’s Gulf Oil International. This month, the Reserve Bank of India pushed back on the brothers’ plan to raise their stake in IndusInd Bank Ltd, whose shares have lost 66% this year, according to people familiar with the matter.