Timid Indian Press Sucks Up to Infosys, Ignores Visa Fraud Investigation

Don Tennant

Last week, Infosys held a lengthy press conference in India to discuss its financial results for its third quarter, which ended on Dec. 31. And once again, the Indian press demonstrated its meekness by failing to compel Infosys executives to address the dark cloud hanging over the company as it awaits the outcome of the U.S. government’s visa and tax fraud investigation.

Infosys posted the archived video of the press conference on its website, and I forced myself to sit through all 57 minutes and 15 seconds of it. It was absolutely excruciating. The entire Infosys senior management team was present, and the assembled press had a golden opportunity to ask the tough questions that were screaming to be asked. Instead, they chose to lob softball, adulatory questions in an embarrassing display of sycophancy that does nothing but feed the arrogance Infosys has displayed since Oct. 11, 2010, the day Infosys employee Jay Palmer blew the whistle on the company.

It was almost as if the Infosys executives came up with the questions they wanted to be asked, and the reporters eagerly jumped at the chance to ask them. Just to give you an idea of what it was like, here are some of the actual questions that were asked:

  • “The mood of management is quite upbeat today. Basically, under-promising and overachieving is what Infosys has been doing so far. … Despite [the global economic environment] Infosys has done relatively better this quarter. What are the factors that are working in favor of you, especially in Europe? We see you have done quite nicely—you seem to be riding against the storm in Europe.”
  • “I’m just curious to know, you won 14 deals in the products and platforms space—can you tell me what’s the contract value for those 14 deals?”
  • “Why do you think the stock price is going up despite your 3.6 percent [revenue growth]?”
  • “This year, how does Infosys plan to add greater value to your customers in terms of new, disruptive technologies?”

Almost incomprehensibly, the reporters made absolutely no attempt to get the Infosys executives to address the U.S. government’s investigation. Nothing whatsoever was mentioned about the alleged violations or what Infosys is doing to correct the situation that prompted this intensive, multi-agency investigation. Nothing. It was pathetic.

Here are some of the questions that needed to be asked, and would have been if only the reporters could have summoned the courage and professionalism to ask them:

  • Jay Palmer, the Infosys employee whose whistleblower report sparked the U.S. government’s investigation of alleged immigration and tax fraud at Infosys, has been languishing on the bench for nearly two years. Why is that the case?
  • Does Infosys have any intention of assigning Palmer to a project?
  • You acknowledged in your IFRS Earnings Release for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2012, that Infosys “has been advised that the DHS has found errors in a significant percentage of its Forms I-9 that the DHS has reviewed, and the [U.S.] government may seek to impose fines and penalties on the company in connection with such alleged errors.” To what do you attribute these errors, and what specifically is Infosys doing to correct the situation?
  • You noted in the Earnings Release that in connection with the grand jury subpoena for certain documents and records related to your sponsorships for, and uses of, B1 business visas, you’ve been advised by the U.S. Attorney’s Office that Infosys “and certain of its employees are targets of the investigation.” Can you identify which employees are being investigated?
  • You stated in your Earnings Release, “In the event that any government undertakes any actions which limit any visa program that the company utilizes, or imposes sanctions, fines or penalties on the company or its employees, this could materially and adversely affect the company’s business and results of operations.” What do you see as the best- and worst-case scenarios stemming from the U.S. government’s investigation and your ongoing discussions with the U.S. Attorney’s Office?
  • In light of the U.S. government’s investigation, what specific steps have you taken to ensure that Infosys is fully compliant with all U.S. immigration and tax laws?
  • Given the nature of the alleged abuses, is Infosys at all concerned that the SEC will conduct an investigation of the company, independent of the investigation jointly conducted by DHS, the Department of State, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office?
  • In hindsight, what should Infosys have done differently that might have avoided the U.S. government’s investigation of the company and certain of its employees?

So allow me to address the press in India directly. I know that many of you read my blog, and I’m certain that some of you who were at that press conference will read this post. Let me ask you, and invite your responses: Why didn’t you ask any of those questions? Why did you let Infosys off the hook?

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 14, 2013 5:27 PM Java Expert Java Expert  says:
seems infy is prepping the shareholders for a bad announcement Reply
Jan 14, 2013 6:00 PM D.K.Bose D.K.Bose  says:
If such silly questions were asked in the conference then the video that you downloaded would have been atleast 500 mins instead of 57 mins. Now when we know the strength of Infosys, its better to buy its stock that is climibing to get some benefits instead of wasting time on some false allegations as judged by Albama court. Reply
Jan 14, 2013 7:24 PM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to D.K.Bose
If you're going to comment on here, do not mislead my readers with untruthful information. The Alabama court did NOT rule that Palmer's allegations were false. The Alabama court ruled that under Alabama employment law, Palmer could not sue Infosys for the harassment and retaliation he suffered following his whistleblower report. The visa and tax fraud allegations were not addressed by the Alabama court. Those allegations are being addressed by the U.S. government investigation being spearheaded by DHS, the State Department, and the Justice Department. Reply
Jan 15, 2013 6:35 AM Disillusioned Disillusioned  says:
Such questions have been asked in recent interviews and Infosys continues to stonewall. Furthermore, the U.S. State Dept. and DHS are refusing to speak to us about the investigation. We have continued to mention that the investigation is ongoing, but unless we get reliable information about new developments in the situation, there's no story. The editors will not keep wasting space on routine denials and refusal to comment. As a blogger, you have the creative and editorial liberty to speculate and fill pages with your personal observations and opinions. You also do not have a department head, a bureau chief and senior editors breathing down your neck. You have all the time and space in the world to harp on one company as you see fit. I do not have these liberties. We have policies that must be followed and India's defamation laws are routinely manipulated to one's liking. There are word count and time constraints. I cannot spend every waking moment chasing Infosys around, as there are other companies to be covered and other news to be published. Visit India and talk to the overstressed, underpaid journalists before bashing us at every turn, if you have the courage. Reply
Jan 15, 2013 10:48 AM Akshay Kakkar Akshay Kakkar  says: in response to Don Tennant
The press meet is a regular press meet which occurs every quarter. All Infosys shareholders and media personnel are invited. My question to you is - "Why on earth should Indian media ask these questions to Infosys?" They wanted to cover the interests of shareholders and they did. In the Indian society, I am not sure about yours - when a matter is subjudice, it isn't spoken about. So you would get similar answers anyway. If you wanted answers to these questions, then you should've taken the pain of flying to India and put them on your own. Just sitting in the other corner of the world & penning articles which suit your interest will not help. I am a shareholder of this company & have extreme faith in them. As much as you would want to know the well being of Mr. Palmer in this company, he is JUST AN EMPLOYEE. An employee's work allocation IS NOT DISCUSSED in a result declaration meeting ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. Your article seems timid, grossly over-biased. The Indian media did nothing wrong. If the allegations are proven true, law would take its course & Infosys would be fined. Would that mean that you score? Why do you sound so biased? Reply
Jan 15, 2013 4:17 PM Odumbo Odumbo  says:
It's pretty obvious that many people are disappointed with the dismissal of the allegations against Infosys... some people had high hopes and plenty of things to write about it. Some claimed it would be a "game changer" and would bring the downfall of h1-b visa, the downfall of infosys and the downfall of the indian IT industry and a host of other day dreams. Criticis and haters alike were pretty excited with every news snippet and speculation. Well, nothing happened... as some of us rational and realistic heads predicted in the midst of all the brow beating, this did not even ruffle a feather and it's buisness as usual. Sorry, the fact is, neither the US government nor the corporations care about your concerns. Thanks for playing along. Thanks for falling for the government's anti-outsourcing rhetoric and casting your votes accordingly. As I already mentioned months and months ago, the same rhetoric will be repeated again after four years a few months before the elections. And like lemmings, American voters will swoon over the person that makes the loudest noise. 2008, 2012, 2016 - it's all the same. Good luck. Nothing will happen. This story is dead. Time to move on. Reply
Jan 16, 2013 7:22 AM CA Rakesh Kalra CA Rakesh Kalra  says:
Infosys is let off because of the same reason as Satyam. When an entity is listed ay NYSE, govt is duty bound to compensate US investors(even if it amounts to rig Sattyamshre prices) Similar is the case with Infosys. Wild fluctuations before any concrete action , lets Investors get out though at the cost of speculators . so let it be. CA Rakesh Kalra My query is that whethor or not it amounts to Money Laundering, perhaps not unless procceds of crime is shown(Havala trade) Reply
Jan 16, 2013 1:11 PM pro pro  says:
Don, will charges ever be filed against INFY or any other Indian company for B1 visa misuse? The companies in India have gotten more and more brazen. Look at http://jobsearch.naukri.com/b1-visa-jobs At the peak of Palmer vs INFY case in the Alabama court, there were about 400-500 jobs for 'B1 VISA' posted on this Indian jobs website (naukri.com) now there are close to a 1000 not to mention the many 'B1 visa' jobs not being posted! This is blatant violation of immigration laws, tax evasion at Federal (Payroll taxes), State and Local levels. No wonder States/Local municipalities are short on revenue! I hope they all wake up soon! Reply
Jan 16, 2013 1:47 PM Java Expert Java Expert  says: in response to Akshay Kakkar
So as a shareholder do you think you have been slighted if Infosys violated the visa laws and the stock plunges. If they lose their visa program in the United States and cant bring over workers? Being fined is a part, under US law, infosys could lose their visa program. All H1b workers and B1 will be sent back to India. Your thoughts as a share holder. Reply
Jan 16, 2013 6:27 PM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to Disillusioned
Nonsense. I'm very much aware that you can't spend every waking moment following Infosys around, and my post did not suggest otherwise. The Infosys executives were served up on a silver platter for the reporters in the room. There was no chasing to be done. They were right there. And the opportunity was squandered. You can't be accused of defamation for asking a question. The idea is to ask the questions so that any response or lack thereof is a matter of public record. By not asking the questions I listed in my post, you let Infosys off the hook, and you allowed the misinformation to continue--that the visa fraud charges were dropped when the Palmer case was dismissed. That case didn't even address the fraud charges--it was a harassment/retaliation case. Read what I wrote--understand that there is a dark cloud looming over Infosys, and the potential ramifications are enormous. Did you not bother to read the Earnings Release with all of this information that I cited? It's your job. For the love of God, do it. Reply
Jan 19, 2013 7:23 AM Reality Lover Reality Lover  says:
Looks like there is no not much meat in the US government investigation. Why is it taking so much time, probably the US govt has not found anything incriminating ? Till such time when US govt dismisses the case, Mr. Tennant enjoy the traffic that you are getting Reply
Jan 22, 2013 8:32 PM a a  says:
Don, Do u seriously expect a journalist to ask these questions? "Jay Palmer, the Infosys employee whose whistleblower report sparked the U.S. government’s investigation of alleged immigration and tax fraud at Infosys, has been languishing on the bench for nearly two years. Why is that the case? Does Infosys have any intention of assigning Palmer to a project?" The above questions are ridiculous to be asked in a press conference in India. Ok let me ask you this, why isn't US media asking these questions?After Palmer's case was closed, did the American press follow up? They could have asked these questions right, so why do you blame Indian press. Some of the above Questions regd Visa investigations have been put up to Infosys previously since then the "status quo" has not changed, investigation is pending and once the investigation results are out, I'm sure there would be questions asked. Reply
Jan 22, 2013 8:42 PM a a  says:
Let me ask, was the investigation launched by US govt sometime recently? Were there any statements or any facts released by the agencies involved in the investigation released recently? Is the investigation finished? If answer is a "no" to above question then I don't see a point why Indian press should raise these questions. And the dark cloud which you suggested, is it similar to Palmer's case? you had exaggerated facts even then and result was nothing, If you have a problem why don't you chase ur govt to release the investigation results investigated till now and ask american press to cover it. Reply
Jan 31, 2013 8:57 PM Wakjob Wakjob  says:
"Instead, they chose to lob softball, adulatory questions in an embarrassing display of sycophancy that does nothing but feed the arrogance Infosys has displayed since Oct. 11, 2010, the day Infosys employee Jay Palmer blew the whistle on the company." Don, anyone who has dealth with the RICO Indian bodyshops knows this is SOP for them - deny, obfuscate, deflect attention, never admit any wrongdoing, ever. Did you expect the Indian press to be objective? Come on, they're not going to attack their own. Nothing will happen to Infy because it is the unstated policy of the globalists who run our gov't to allow Indian RICO rackets to continue to cause harm in the US: it's their mechanism for deliberately destroying the tech industry. Reply
Mar 4, 2013 3:20 PM BoredofDon BoredofDon  says: in response to Don Tennant
Don let me tell you one thing , As a man who worked with me i know who Jack palmer is and wht is his problem. When i read your other blogs i feel why do you waste your outsatnding skills in defending this guy who wants money just by sitting in home (work from home). Just because u started supporting palmer you cannot stop this ? and each statements made by you is proving to be false.and my gutfeeling is that visa fraud would be not different. Just fight for a better judicial system in america that this silly things Reply
Jun 22, 2013 9:12 PM Jim Jim  says:
I worked for many years in the UK and the USA for an American outsourcer. We routinely brought I T personnel into the UK from Texas and from pats of India, usually on visitors visas to do short term projects. We outsourced work to India and made US and British I T workers unemployed. The only thing that mattered was making money, and if you broke the law, don't get caught. We brought Indian I T types to both the UK and USA, and frankly, none of the ones I worked with were ever as good as their PR. No idea about meeting schedules, budgets or quality. But, before they were repatriated, they usually left the company and disappeared, either to work for another company or go contracting. I believe that Indian I T companies are actually Visa companies with I T as a side issue. The Indians are destroying the world. Reply

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