Advice for India: Screen Those Ex-Infosys Execs Well

Don Tennant

As top executives at Infosys Technologies leave the company and begin other pursuits, their prospective employers would be well-advised to subject those executives to a very thorough pre-employment screening process. It just might prevent an embarrassingly awkward situation down the road.


As I noted in my recent post, "Infosys Is Becoming a Model of Non-transparency," Mohandas Pai, the former Infosys board member in charge of human resources, abruptly resigned from the company and expressed his concern about transparency in the CEO selection process. A couple of weeks later, Pai accepted an offer to co-chair a committee at Bangalore University that's charged with establishing a school of economics at the university.


The problem I have with Pai serving in such a role at a university is that I'm not sure what sort of example he would set for the students. When he became aware of the lawsuit that Infosys employee and whistleblower Jay Palmer filed against the company in the United States in February, alleging visa and tax fraud, this was Pai's immediate response, according to an Indian media outlet:

[We cannot react as] the matter is sub judice but we shall rigorously defend ourselves.

What's so troubling is that Pai's response should have been something along the lines of, "We take these allegations very seriously, and we will investigate them thoroughly." By instead proclaiming immediately after the suit was filed that Infosys will "rigorously defend" itself, Pai was conveying one of two messages: Either he was already familiar with Palmer's complaints but took no action to address them, or he was not familiar with the complaints and was going into defense mode without even investigating the allegations. In either case, it's essential to note that Pai did not deny the allegations - to be clear, stating that Infosys will "rigorously defend" itself is not a denial. In fact, wearing my other hat as a specialist in the field of deception detection, I should point out that failure to deny in this manner is a glaring behavioral indicator that the subject considers the allegations to be true.


Meanwhile, Narayana Murthy, the founder and outgoing chairman of Infosys, has said that he's open to the possibility of working for the Indian government. Asked by a reporter if he would be willing to take up a government post if it was offered, this was Murthy's response:

Of course, I will be willing to take it up. But the best thing would be if I get an opportunity to address the youngsters, to exhort them to [be] more disciplined, to have good work ethic, to work as a team, and to have aspirations, I would say that's the job I would enjoy most.

Whether Murthy ends up working in the Indian government or in a different capacity that enables him to influence India's youth, what needs to be considered are the age-old questions of what he knew and when he knew it, regarding the activities that led to Palmer's whistleblower complaint and ultimate lawsuit. In any case, what's inescapable is that any fraudulent activity that did occur, occurred under Murthy's watch.


It's especially important to consider at this point the U.S. government's ongoing criminal investigation of Infosys that was triggered by the Palmer case. If federal authorities file a criminal complaint against Infosys - and that prospect appears to be increasingly likely - which individuals will be listed as defendants? Might one be the individual in charge of Infosys' global human resources operations? Might another be the chairman of the board of directors that was ultimately responsible for all of Infosys' operations worldwide?


Any private- or public-sector organization in India or anywhere else that's considering employing Pai or Murthy in any capacity needs to make due diligence in the hiring process a top priority. The potential fallout from the civil case brought by Palmer could be damaging enough not only to the reputations of Murthy and Pai, but to the reputation of any organization that might employ them. If they were to eventually be named as defendants in a criminal case brought by the government of the United States, how might that reflect on any such organization?


As uncomfortable as that question may be to ask, the questions that any employer of these individuals might have to ask and answer at some point down the line would be doubly uncomfortable. A better case for rigorous pre-employment screening would be difficult to make.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
May 4, 2011 11:17 AM AmericanCitizen AmericanCitizen  says:

Hi Don,

            I came upon this Blog by chance. You've got a site that is very relevant and important for the American Citizen. All Americans have to be aware of all the nonsense going on in the H1B area. It is way beyond time to STOP these H1B Visas and all the other Work Visas, and make way for Jobs for the Millions of Our Citizens who are desperate for work. Most of these H1Bs are frauds and have to be fired ASAP and Americans hired instead.

If i were the President who really cared for America,  I would ASAP sign a Bill authorising a STOP to all Work Visas, except for those who get a PhD Degree in America. No more renewals of Work Visas. Time to send these H1Bs out! No more Discussion and Political Correctness. Have a 5 year freeze on all Work visas. Time to take our country back!

May 6, 2011 7:34 AM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says:

"The problem I have with Pai serving in such a role at a university is that I€™m not sure what sort of example he would set for the students."

To understand ethics and "right and wrong" when it comes to some of these executives at probably most global corporations, let me offer my explanation of what they are thinking:



Won't result in my incarceration

It can't be (easily) proven that we are violating laws or regulations, or something that isn't regularly enforced



Something that will financially harm management or investors (but mostly executives)

I think it is interesting that your other field is deception detection. Industry's pro H-1b arguments have for the last two decades relied extensively on deception of the public. It is full of red-herrings, cherry picking of data, and organizations calling themselves "TechAmerica" (formerly ITAA) as if they represent the American interest or care about creating tech jobs. Nefarious groups like NFAP - claiming to be think tanks and above the fray - have their corporate backed "studies" quoted as if directly from the mouth of God. They also wrap themselves in the American flag while representing a globalist agenda.

These organizations have manipulated the facts, manipulated the media, and steered our country in a very dangerous direction. Of course, in their minds they are doing the "right" thing. Profits == "right", remember that.

We stole the lands of American Indians - in the name of expanding our nation. That made people money, so that was "right".

We built this country on the forced labor of black slaves. For much of our history, that was "right". Thomas Jefferson was conflicted about the whole thing, but that didn't stop him from being the largest slave owner in his county (or sleeping with them). Ironically, some Native American tribes sided with the south in the Civil War because they were slave owners and transitioned from being exploited to exploiters themselves.

Eventually slavery was outlawed (after a war that killed more Americans than all other American wars combined) but our nation has grown wealthier to this day because of continued exploitation.

The reason illegal immigration laws aren't enforced and immigration reforms never happen is because too many people are making healthy profits on exploitation of poor, desperate workers from Mexico. It's more profitable if we continue the status quo, turn a blind eye, and ignore the impact on both American and foreign labor.

A common argument in support of illegal immigration is "it keeps food prices down". Slavery made cotton and as a result clothing cheaper. Was that also OK? Some people at the time it was very much OK. I think they called it a "state right".

But exploitation isn't limited to "3D" workers' jobs (dirty, degrading, or dangerous).   We created special visa programs that allow corporations to "sponsor" workers in high tech occupations. Originally, these workers were unable to change jobs and today it's still very difficult and risky to their status. Essentially, we created a form of indentured servitude. The rules are simple:do whatever your employer tells you, or else you could be deported. Apply for other jobs at your own risk.  Reply

May 6, 2011 7:34 AM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says:

Just because you have a nice office building, people show up in ties, and you have coffee service doesn't mean your company isn't exploiting people. They may be very smart people, and they may even be paid market wages or higher. But if you don't have the basic ability to seek another job without fear of losing your status, you will naturally be easier to exploit and less likely to bargain more aggressively for higher wages or benefits. If workers are highly concentrated in an occupation (like they are in software) this has a significant impact on market wages and impacts locals as well.

My bottom line on immigration is this:immigration should be an agreement between our government and an immigrant. There should be no entity in the middle, like a corporation. Aside from tourists and students, I don't think we should allow foreign people to become "part-time Americans" or temporary guest workers. I think being an American is a full-time job and immigration should be reserved for those people and families who want to start new lives here. And we need to make it easier to do that.

The goal of immigration should be allowing people who support American values and democracy to become productive citizens. Let's not tarnish it with goals of cheap, exploitable labor and ultimately corporate profits. That's what America of the past is all about. America of the future should make immigration something much more sacrosanct.

May 9, 2011 3:55 AM Justin Justin  says: in response to Caren

ahh... So whoever invested in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have bad understanding of business ethics.. aha.. got it

Murthy and "his" Infosys is 99.9999% ethical if not 100%. Much better than many American companies who pay to get business in China.

May 9, 2011 7:51 AM Caren Caren  says: in response to R. Lawson

Don you have my respect as a specialist in the field of deception detection , your behavioral analysis is bang on target about the white collar ,gentlemanly appearing criminals alien to American ways and ethics . Recently Murthy invested his fortune in scrip of SKS microfinance which is hugely being  ridiculed in both US and in India as a crony capital scheme by promoters who have a bad legal history and immature understanding about business ethics . Murthy appears to be a pope or religious kind of person who get associated with crooks and wrong guys easily who run dubious schemes under his nose encashing on his goodwill .You are awakening the working people of America and and working towards the right cause and I thank you for that .

May 13, 2011 4:00 AM Justin Justin  says: in response to R. Lawson

Well Written. Thanks for sharing.

May 13, 2011 9:08 AM Justin Justin  says: in response to Dolores

Thanks for highlighting that Infosys is infact an ethical bellwether

Its the internal norms that Infosys has set: To report such transactions within a day... tell me any other company who would do that and be so stingent in such case. Note that its the company itself who has fined Kris.


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