A quest for justice set in motion just over three years ago, when an American Infosys employee blew the whistle on alleged rampant visa fraud at the Indian IT services provider, came to a climax today when U.S. government authorities announced that Infosys would be slapped with the largest immigration-related penalty in U.S. history.
It was in early October of 2010 that Jay Palmer, a highly regarded Infosys project manager from Alabama, filed an internal report documenting Infosys’s alleged practice of illegally using B-1 business visas to send Indian employees to work at client sites in the United States. A lawsuit filed in February 2011, alleging that Infosys had engaged in systematic retaliation against Palmer for blowing the whistle, made Palmer’s allegations public, and led to a multi-agency U.S. government investigation of Infosys, spearheaded by officials from the Department of Justice, the Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security.
At a press conference in Plano, Texas, today, those officials announced that their investigation “indicated that Infosys manipulated the visa process and circumvented the requirements, limitations, and governmental oversight of the visa programs,” and that Infosys “has agreed to a civil settlement of allegations of systemic visa fraud and abuse of immigration processes by paying a record [$34 million] settlement amount and agreeing to enhanced corporate compliance measures.”
Infosys issued a statement saying that it “denies and disputes any claims of systemic visa fraud, misuse of visas for competitive advantage, or immigration abuse. Those claims are untrue and are assertions that remain unproven.”
I spoke with Palmer earlier today, and I asked him for his reaction to the settlement. This is what he told me:
Today is not about me. It’s about these U.S. government officials, their investigation, and their enforcement of the law. I have no regrets about doing what I think was right, and following my conscience. I just wish that Infosys would have reached out to me, and embraced me, and let me be a part of the solution. I hope [Infosys founder and executive chairman] Mr. Murthy can bring the company back to the ethics that were there when he originally founded the company. It just saddens me that I more than likely won’t be a part of it. It was never about me. This was always bigger than me. It was always about the law, and about the people I worked with. I truly miss the people that I worked with—I miss the relationships, I miss the interaction. That’s been the hardest part of this entire thing. I miss the clients that I worked with. It’s not a happy day for me. It’s a sad day for me, because I loved the people that I worked with, I really did. I loved working with the Indians, I loved working 12 or 13 hours a day. That’s just how I feel. This was never a personal vendetta. This was about what I thought was right, and what I thought was wrong. From the beginning of this, I’ve always tried to be a part of the solution, not the problem. I realized that unless I stood up, nothing would ever be done. I still think I did the right thing, and that’s all I care about.