Contrary to claims that the family feud between the Hinduja brothers for control of the $11-billion fortune was fuelled by SP Hinduja’s daughter Vinoo, documents submitted to the High Court in England show that the dispute had started way back in 2015.
SP Hinduja, the 84-year old patriarch and the eldest of the four brothers, himself sought to disavow the 2014 agreement signed with the other three. The four brothers had signed on two letters between July 1 and July 2, 2014.
According to the agreement, the assets were not to be be divided and the assets held in any single brother’s name belonged to all four brothers. The six-year-old deal also stated that each brother will appoint the others as their executors.
Documents submitted to the court show that a year later, SP himself, not Vinoo, who originally sought a meeting with his brothers on May 2, 2015 to discuss an exit route. While PP Hinduja was keen on such a meeting, the other two brothers — GP Hinduja, and AP Hinduja — thought differently.
“At that stage it was thought that GP Hinduja, and AP Hinduja would agree to whatever SP proposed, but shortly after the meeting GP and AP referred to the July letter and sought to rely on it,” the document states.
As a result, an email was sent on May 25, 2015 stating that SP did not consider himself legally or morally bound by the July letter. A further letter, dated July 24, 2015, reiterated that SP was not bound by it, and he made the same point in a letter he sent dated July 16, 2015.
The disclosure assumes significance in the light of the stance taken by the three brothers that the dispute was being fuelled by Vinoo for her own financial interest and her stand on the July letters was not in line with the wishes of her father.
Sources close to SP’s camp alleged that while the three brothers are contesting the claims made by Vinoo that her father SP did not have the capacity to take decisions due to health issues and so Vinoo cannot represent SP, the three brothers took control of Hinduja Bank in Switzerland using the pretext that SP is ill.
“The dispute between SP and the three brothers had flared up in 2018 also at a shareholders meeting. The three brothers then also did not respect SP’s wishes and are now also taking cover under his ill health and the July letters,” the source said, adding that the dispute is not just about assets in Switzerland and Jersey but also SP’s shares in the Indian companies.
When contacted, Hinduja Group spokesperson in India did not offer any comment.