In what may be the most bizarre revelation in the Infosys visa fraud case to date, recently filed court documents show that a statement released last July by an Infosys marketing executive, which accused whistleblower Jay Palmer of submitting false testimony to a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing, in reality was crafted by lawyers working for Infosys in an effort to denigrate Palmer's character.
You may recall that Palmer had been invited by Sen. Charles Grassley's office to recount his experience with Infosys in written testimony to the subcommittee hearing on immigration reform (see my post, "Infosys Whistleblower Provides Hard-hitting Testimony to Senate Hearing"). Palmer's testimony was so damning that Infosys immediately released a statement, which it claimed came from its chief marketing officer Paul Gottsegen, to discredit Palmer and spread the contention worldwide that he was lying about Infosys in an attempt to enrich himself.
As I reported in my post, "As Settlement Question Looms, Attorney Demands Apology from Infosys," this is the full text of the statement attributed to Gottsegen:
The commentary submitted today by Jay Palmer (via Senator Charles Grassley) to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, is full of inaccuracies, exaggerations and falsehoods. Mr. Palmer is obviously intent on spreading his falsehoods about Infosys and our business practices as broadly as possible in order to advance his objective of getting as big of a payout as he can from the Company.
Here are the facts:
- There is not, nor was there ever a strategy, scheme, or policy by the company to use the B-1 visa program to circumvent the H-1B visa program;
- The company did not have a practice of sending unskilled employees to the United States on B-1 visas to do the work expected of skilled individuals in the U.S. on H-1B visas;
- Mr. Palmer's complaints to the company were handled in complete accordance with our published procedures for handling whistleblower complaints and in compliance with the law:
- The company did not retaliate against or mistreat Mr. Palmer in any way.
As for the rest of Mr. Palmer's commentary, it is rife with misstatements. However, we will not now take on a point-by-point rebuttal of his comments and instead we will leave that to the current litigation.
Infosys is a world class company providing critical technology-based business solutions for our clients throughout the world. We take very seriously our obligations under the law and specifically our responsibilities to comply with the immigration laws and visa requirements in all jurisdictions where we have clients whose needs we serve on a daily basis. We have a deep understanding that the Company's integrity and compliance with law must be uncompromised. To that end, we have made and may continue to make changes in our policies regarding immigration and visa requirements with the intent of having the absolute best practices in place.
That statement made Palmer's attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn, absolutely livid, and he demanded that Gottsegen apologize for calling Palmer a liar. Mendelsohn finally had the opportunity to confront Gottsegen face-to-face on May 21, when he deposed Gottsegen in the course of preparing Palmer's civil case against Infosys. What he learned during that deposition stunned him. Under oath, Gottsegen revealed that the statement in reality wasn't his doing, but was actually the work of a legal team comprised of three lawyers: Jeff Friedel, an in-house Infosys attorney; Jay St. Clair, the lawyer Infosys hired to defend the company in Palmer's civil case; and Steve Jonas, the lawyer Infosys hired to defend it in the U.S. government's criminal case. I spoke with Mendelsohn on Saturday, and he told me he was shocked by the revelation:
I thought it was the chief marketing officer giving a knee-jerk reaction to Jay's testimony. And now I find it was an orchestrated effort by Infosys's in-house counsel and their criminal defense lawyer. To me, it shows there was a deliberate attempt to try to disparage Jay's character.
Mendelsohn also expressed his regret that all this time he has been demanding an apology from Gottsegen, only to learn that the marketing executive was being used as a conduit by the Infosys legal team to discredit Palmer:
I had been saying all along that I was expecting an apology from Mr. Gottsegen, but I almost feel like I kind of owe him one, because it wasn't his fault. I see the predicament he's in. If he hadn't gone along with that statement, he probably would have been in a situation where there would be repercussions for him. He was just doing what he was told to do.
Mendelsohn went on to say that what really offended him during the deposition was that Gottsegen wouldn't answer his questions about what it was that Palmer had ostensibly lied about:
They came out and called him a liar, and they still won't identify one thing in his statement that was a lie. I showed him Jay's statement to the Senate subcommittee, and I asked him to point it out to me, to tell me what Jay was lying about. Gottsegen said he wouldn't answer that because everything he knew came from the attorneys and he was invoking attorney-client privilege. But for the lawyers to do that and know it was going to be publicized, and for it to be blasted all over the world saying he's a liar and he's a fortune hunter, and now they won't even stand up and point out what they say he lied about, I think it's unconscionable. I've said it over and over from the very beginning: If they had anything to show that Jay Palmer was lying, they would have beaten down my door to show me and to present it to the federal authorities out in Texas. All they do is make these accusations, and they don't have anything to back it up.