The U.S. government's criminal investigation of alleged visa fraud by Indian IT services provider Infosys Technologies has led to a grand jury subpoena that compels Infosys to provide information on its sponsorship of B1 visas to send employees to work in the United States. The criminal investigation, sparked by Infosys employee and whistleblower Jay Palmer's civil lawsuit against the company, is clearly intensifying and is making the filing of criminal charges appear increasingly likely. And it has resulted in another threat against Palmer.
The grand jury subpoena, issued in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on Monday, stems from an investigation by federal authorities who have been working with Palmer and his attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn. I spoke with Mendelsohn earlier today, and he connected the dots:
It's my understanding that there's a joint investigation going on between the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department - I know those two are involved. My guess is that these agents, once they met with Jay the first time and started looking at all the documents we provided to them, they went to the U.S. Attorney, which led to the grand jury subpoena. Jay is the one who reported the violations to them, and I feel confident that what they have done is based on the documentation that Jay provided. Federal investigators have been following up with the information, and apparently it's gotten to the level that it has been presented to the grand jury with a view towards prosecuting someone.
I asked Mendelsohn if he expects to see indictments. His response:
My expectation is that they're pretty close to it. Based on what I know, I would expect some indictments, and obviously, the federal investigators and the U.S. Attorney's Office have determined that these are particularly serious problems, or else there wouldn't be a grand jury involved. Based on what I know about the facts and where the federal authorities appear to be in their investigation, I would expect some indictments. I don't know when, or what charges yet. I'm not getting any of this from the federal investigators, because they're not at liberty to share that kind of information with me. But based on the subpoena for documents that we told federal authorities existed that would likely prove some of the crimes, I would expect somebody to be indicted, yes.
The grand jury subpoena was covered extensively by the Indian press yesterday, and Mendelsohn told me that Palmer received another threat, this one coming this morning from an individual in India who is one of Palmer's connections on LinkedIn. The threat was made via LinkedIn, so the individual who made it, barring some sort of hack into the account it was sent from, has been identified. This is the full text of the message, as it appears on LinkedIn:
you still working at infy ? they should have fired you long back ... after you stabbed their back by falsely implicating them on the misuse of visa. unfortunately infy is an indian company and indians don't stab ... even in the front. that's what hypocrites like you take advantage of. Hope they learn the rule of Tit for Tat. I just wish you were here in India. we would have taken *good* care of you.
Mendelsohn said he's reporting the latest threat to Infosys and the federal authorities:
This is the third one, and Infosys is not taking it seriously. They have been advised of these threats, but it's obvious they are doing nothing to try to stop the employees from making the death threats, or to take any action to protect Jay. They will be hearing from me today. We have a name to follow up with in this investigation, and I intend to take some action on this. I'm going to be contacting federal authorities, and maybe even the FBI, on this one to see if they can investigate.
Infosys, meanwhile, has filed a document with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to report its receipt of the grand jury subpoena and to affirm that it will cooperate with the investigation:
On May 23, 2011, the Company received a subpoena (the "Subpoena") from a grand jury in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (the "Grand Jury"). The Subpoena requires that Infosys provide to the Grand Jury certain documents and records related to the Company's sponsorships for, and uses of, B1 business visas. Infosys intends to comply with the Subpoena and to cooperate with the Grand Jury's investigation.