Email exchanges between employees at Infosys Technologies, including individuals in the company's legal and human resources departments, show that Infosys knowingly engaged in illegal activity by arranging for B-1 visa holders to work at client sites in the United States.
The emails, copies of which I have in my possession, appear to support several of the allegations made in the lawsuit filed on behalf of Infosys employee and whistleblower Jay Palmer in February. One of the emails, dated Oct. 8, 2010 and sent by an offshore project manager to an Infosys employee in the United States, referred to a "fixed-price milestone" on a particular contract, and noted that a B-1 visa holder working on the contract was to be paid by the client:
That reminds me, we need to get email approval from client to bill any FP milestone for [employee name]-He is on separate invoice due to his B-1 Visa Pls. get the email approval from client to bill the milestone, amount is 20,352.
That, of course, is a blatant violation of the law. B-1 visas are issued to individuals who come to this country on short-term business, to engage in such activities as negotiating contracts and attending conferences and seminars. It's illegal for them to work here, and it's illegal for them to draw an income from a U.S. entity. That this particular worker "is on a separate invoice due to his B-1 Visa" is incriminating, given the fact that it's illegal to invoice a U.S. entity for work performed by a B-1 visa holder.
A second email, dated Nov. 1, 2010 and sent from an employee in Infosys' HR department to Jeff Friedel, Infosys' corporate counsel, stated explicitly that B-1 visa holders were illegally working at client sites, and weren't paying U.S. taxes:
I researched and confirmed that three employees [that a U.S. Infosys employee] listed as B-1's for [a large corporate client] who were working on client sites have not been paid out of the US. Please see the screen shots attached (B-1's here illegally) from our US pay system-Payforce. If they were paid from the US legally, they would be in this system and therefore would be paying US taxes.
To be clear, the phrase "B-1's here illegally" was written and put in parentheses by the HR employee who sent the email. The phrases in brackets were added by me to protect Infosys employees and clients.
Whether the Palmer case goes to trial or arbitration, Infosys will be in awfully hot water if it's unable to demonstrate that it took action to rectify the illegal activity that was brought to the attention of its corporate counsel. And the Infosys executives whose responsibility it was to rectify that illegal activity-and under whose watch it occurred in the first place-will likely face some extremely difficult questions from federal authorities who are conducting the ongoing criminal investigation of the company.