Infosys Sends Key HR Staff Back to India, Avoids Depositions

Don Tennant

In what may be the most glaring demonstration of a calculated pre-trial housecleaning strategy to date, Infosys has made a sweeping change of personnel in its human resources operation in the United States. The overhaul includes the removal of key personnel who had responsibilities directly related to alleged illegal visa activity being investigated by U.S. government authorities.


The most recent U.S.-based senior HR official to be sent back to India is Poornima Prasad, who as Human Resources Business Leader was instrumental in running Infosys' HR operations in the Americas region, and in authorizing immigration-related activities from the company's Plano, Texas, office. Prasad's departure follows the quiet exits of Arun Silvester, Infosys' head of U.S. immigration, and Eshan Joshi, an associate vice president of human resources.


All three of these senior HR officials were slated to be deposed by Kenny Mendelsohn, the attorney representing Jay Palmer, the Infosys employee and whistleblower whose visa and tax fraud lawsuit triggered the federal government's criminal investigation of the company. I spoke with Mendelsohn on Thursday, and he said Prasad's departure is consistent with the actions Infosys has taken since the company was served with a U.S. grand jury subpoena in May:

To me, Poornima leaving is just another example of how Infosys is apparently trying to change the things that Jay Palmer pointed out to them a year and a half ago. My whole point is that if Jay Palmer was lying about this, or if his accusations were not true, Infosys would not be making all of these changes. To me, this is just another acknowledgement by them that they had these very problems in their immigration department that Jay tried to get them to correct a year and a half ago, and they wouldn't do it. I think what's gotten their interest is now this grand jury is impaneled, and federal authorities are seriously investigating and pursuing them, and it took that to get them to make changes. In the meantime, Jay has been harassed, retaliated against, exiled from the company, shut out of their system-that's the suffering he's been put through, and all he did was follow their own whistleblower policy, pointing out these very problems that they now see are true.

Mendelsohn said that while he wanted to depose the three departed HR officials for his civil case, what's really at stake is whether the federal investigators wanted to question them for their criminal case:

I can't answer that, but as a former prosecutor, that's what goes through my mind. I don't think it will hurt their prosecution not having them, but it's interesting to me that some of these people who were certainly involved to some extent in Infosys' immigration and human resources are no longer here in the country. We have received information that other Infosys employees have been requested to give statements and meet with them, and have been instructed not to talk to the federal authorities. The grand jury can subpoena people to be here, but not when they're out of the country.

I told Mendelsohn it appears to me that Infosys is trying to stay one step ahead of U.S. law, and I asked him if he thinks that's the case. His response:

I do. I honestly do. They will probably say, "Oh no, we just needed them here in India." But I have every reason to believe that even if these people aren't guilty of any crimes, they know what was going on during this time. This was going through their office. Arun Silvester was head of immigration in the U.S. That's the guy who was overseeing all of immigration, and we have undisputed evidence of immigration violations. So my guess is Infosys doesn't want him near a grand jury.

Mendelsohn also said he plans to raise all of this when he presents his case at trial:

You can't come out and call [Palmer] a liar and say, "We've done nothing wrong," but then revamp your whole immigration department. Why change it if you haven't done anything wrong? If you didn't do anything wrong, you don't change it. Truthfully, I think they're probably changing a lot of this to make themselves look better with the federal authorities-telling them, "We've made mistakes, it wasn't intentional, we've cleaned it up and gotten rid of all these people." It's either that they don't want the testifying, or they want to make the company look good by saying, "Look, we've gotten rid of all the people who were involved, and we're open under new management." That's a common defense tactic.

I asked Mendelsohn if that tactic wouldn't be a de facto admission of wrongdoing. His response:

It is to me-that's why the criminal outcome is going to be so important to me. I don't have access to everything in the federal government's criminal investigation, because the authorities aren't allowed to tell me everything that's going on. But Infosys' biggest fear right now is the federal authorities' criminal case. That, in my mind, is what they're trying to get worked out. Because if Infosys takes the position that they did nothing wrong, and doesn't try to work out something, my best guess is that they're going to get indicted, and they're going to have to try to defend themselves in court. And with all the evidence that the feds have on them, they're going down.

Mendelsohn said that as he sees it, Infosys needs to do everything in its power to avoid that indictment:

It's not unusual in any criminal case for somebody to come in and basically plead for mercy. As a former prosecutor, it looks to me like everything that Infosys has been doing is to come in and say, "Look, the board didn't know anything about it, we had some employees who didn't understand the law and they maybe got overly aggressive, and we've changed our policies. We didn't mean to violate the law. If we didn't pay the proper visa fees, we'll pay them; if we didn't pay the taxes, we'll pay them. But just don't prosecute us, and don't ruin our company. We're still a great company, and we love America." That's what it looks like they're setting up. I can't speak for the federal authorities or for Infosys, but it certainly appears to me that a lot of this is being done to try to make themselves look better in front of the federal authorities. I can't be sure, but certainly, just based on being a former prosecutor and my experience, that certainly looks like the defense they're setting up. Knowing what I know about Infosys' conduct, that would be the position I would be advising Infosys to take.

For coverage of related Infosys housecleaning activity, see my Dec. 11 post, "Infosys Recasts Immigration Team as Showdown with Feds Looms."

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Dec 16, 2011 11:26 AM IAmNumber813 IAmNumber813  says:

Infosys's dumb move might work in Jay's favor. The U.S. and India have an extradition treaty:

"Extradition treaty between India and the US"


1. Issue the subpoena to Infosys to compel the videotaped deposition testimony of the Infosys's employees that have fled the U.S.

2. Contact Hilary's Clinton's State Department in Washington, D.C. and request diplomatic enforcement of the extradition treaty. If possible, invite C-SPAN and other TV networks and hold a Q&A press conference in Washington, D.C. about the Infosys' employees having fled the country to avoid prosecution.

3. If Infosys refuses to comply with the subpoena, complain to the NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Wall Street Journal and the high-traffic tech blogging sites (digg.com, techdirt.com, techcrunch.com, wired.com, zdnet.com, etc.) that Infosys's senior employees have fled the country to avoid criminal and civil prosecution in the U.S. Also inform Infosys' large financial and other clients. This will severely damage their reputation with their large financial clients.

Apparently, the Infosys Indian management team is not listening to their outside counsel.

Dec 16, 2011 5:04 PM jake_leone jake_leone  says:

Why can't there be an "Obstruction of Justice" investigation?  That is what they are doing.

Reminds me so much of that movie "Rain Maker".  That classic discovery meeting between "Great Benefit" and the dying kids lawyer.  Where no one knew the location of employees who actually implemented the companies policies.

There's a lot of money in this and when hard-working people lose their homes to petty tax-evasion, why can't the feds work as hard to scare the corporations straight?  It would pay-off big-time.

And this would have triple-benefit for taxes,

- Fines/interest/back taxes paid

- Making companies to stop using the B-1 visa as their primary

employment method for job in the U.S. (B-1 workers can avoid U.S. taxes).

- Potentially making the corporations hire people who will pay U.S. taxes.

Helping our government pay its debt is critical to every person in (that's the 100%) in this country.

Dec 16, 2011 6:59 PM Pro Pro  says:

Exactly what My R. Lawson feared a few days back! It'll be an insult to all the hardworking and law abiding techies if Infy is let away with a just a slap on wrist. This is just an incentive for other Indian companies to go about with their own rules. A 'B1 Visa' keyword search on www.naukari.com actually has more results than a few months back, more disregard to the law of the land. Will there be a morning when Feds actually round up offices across the nation netting these people??? 

Dec 17, 2011 1:57 PM Datruth Datruth  says: in response to jake_leone

(1) Infosys needs to be made an example of UNFAIR visa practices and punished severely so that other firms learn - Make them hire only US personnel and evaluate all their visas and ban these unskilled employees.

They have money to pay US workers anyway and hire them.

(2) These guys are completely unprofessional, cheats with lots of money and the best lawyers, high profile clients, etc. , so unless strong public opinion is generated BY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE (Online petitions, protests , lot more media attention and influence key senators, lots of politicians, big money makers) - This case will die.


Dec 17, 2011 5:44 PM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says:

No matter your position on the H-1b visa in support or opposed, I don't see how anyone can support companies like Infosys having the ability to sponsor foreign guest workers - especially when they obstruct justice by whisking away witnesses out of our jurisdiction.  They can't be trusted with this because we don't have the ability to seek justice when they abuse whatever privileges we give them.

This is the precise reason I have complaints about the DOJ and their slow response.  The DOJ is going through their process, meanwhile Infosys is shuffling their team and sending the witnesses away.  I would not be surprised if they are obstructing justice in other ways such as deleting emails and shredding documents - not to mention coaching any witness that happens to be left behind.

This is an outrage!  I believe the government needs to revoke passports of those remaining and connect them to GPS ankle bracelets.  They are all a flight risk.  Those who ran should be permanently barred from our country, unless it is some sort of prisoner visa.  I am in full support of the P-1 for these people who have evaded and/or obstructed justice.  No cap even.

Come on DOJ!  Do your jobs for Christ sake!

Dec 17, 2011 6:19 PM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says:

Perhaps my comments in the last post didn't take into account what choice, if any, the people sent back to India had on the matter.  I don't know if they were "sent" away or if they "went" away.

I really think that there is a story here.  If these people do not make themselves available for a deposition they are part of the cover up.  The US Embassy is nearby and technically/legally American soil - do it remotely there if need be so that it can be under oath.

The crime is bad enough.  The cover-up is going to put some people at Infosys in bright orange suits.  Maybe that's why the DOJ is taking their time - giving Infosys just enough rope to hang themselves.  I guess we'll find out.

If Infosys is playing the "look, we are trying to change our behavior - please don't prosecute" my response to that is as follows.  If a bank-robber is a drunk what prosecutor is going to say "well, I see your going to AA meetings now, so just be good from now on ok.  Consider this a warning"?

If they are changing their ways, good for them.  But we expect them to do that anyways.  There is no special reward for doing what is expected.  If the company was involved with crimes and a cover-up I expect them to be prosecuted.  If it destroys the company, well that's a reminder to investors not to give their money to corporate criminals.

The only way we can control corporate crime is with stiff economic penalty and criminal penalties for INDIVIDUALS in the corporation.  This whole concept of corporate person-hood has really been a shield so that people aren't held personally responsible for the actions of their company - even when they were responsible for the actions. 

To any federal prosecutor who is reading this right now, my message to him or her is as follows: We have a crime that has real victims.  Faceless victims, like the American workers who are being discriminated against by this company.  And there are also direct victims like those who reported what they witnessed and retaliated against.

If you allow Infosys to get away with these crimes and make some deal amounting to a slap on the wrist YOU are creating a situation that will result in countless more victims.  The only way to stop corporate crime is to truly make sure that it does not pay. 

If you look at corporate crime - like Madoff - you will see an increase in other crimes that are direct results of those few corporate criminals.  Can you even keep track of the suicides, alcoholism, domestic abuse, and number of people who found themselves in poverty and losing it all after Madoff scammed them?  Infosys is no different.  They are harming people and some of them will be destroyed.  You would be doing a good thing (and your job in fact) if you made it stop.  Make Infosys pay for their crimes and seek TRUE and FAIR justice for the victims.

Dec 18, 2011 9:30 AM IAmNumber813 IAmNumber813  says:

The last post should be sent to the NY Times as an editorial piece (and provide a short paragraph describing the case's history).

Dec 18, 2011 9:47 AM Make No Bones Make No Bones  says: in response to R. Lawson

Well said.Its always the faceless victims that suffer.The New York Times should do an investigative journalism piece on Infosys and what they seem to have done.

Julia Preston Of NYT has won a pultizer prize before and she was the one who wrote the article on Jack Palmer.


She covers immigration for the Times since 2006.

If she decides to cover the story..then Infosys days are numbered !

Dec 19, 2011 2:33 PM Richard Richard  says: in response to Make No Bones

So I am curious to know whether the deportaion of these culprit HR people have any positive outcome for Jay Palmer case or not ?

Dec 20, 2011 10:22 AM Bob Bob  says:

The USA has telegraphed to the world for 20 years that we are a playground for foreign organized crime.

The world has received, acknowleged, and acted on, that telegraph

Dec 20, 2011 1:15 PM Su Su  says:

Interesting data for next 12 months for Infosys:

"The Forrester report that surveyed over 1,000 CIOs found that in the next 12 months Infosys, which had 105 respondents, would see a 4% fall in client spends. TCS with 111 respondents will see a 23% rise in client spends, Cognizant with 78 respondents will see a 13% rise, Wipro with 94 respondents will see a 13% rise, and HCL Tech with 44 respondents will see a 11% rise."

Source: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-12-19/news/30534242_1_kris-gopalakrishnan-infosys-lakh-jobs

Dec 20, 2011 8:33 PM Datruth Datruth  says: in response to Richard

(1) Unfortunately makes legal steps/actions against Infosys very weak.

(2) Gives Infosys strong protection, that they are taking action and improving steps....

The weaker the case and longer it takes, Palmer will be pushed into forced arbirtration and case will just whittle down. Only way, America can get what it wants is if media and some strong senators. A lot more public outcry and a lot more media attention is needed for usa but looking unlikely...

Dec 22, 2011 9:32 AM Richard Richard  says: in response to Datruth

But these things that Infosys is doing is only after jay palmer filed the case. So that means Infosys was a culprit all the way. Why cant infosys get punished for its past misdeeds ? Poor Jay, what will happen to him if he loses out. He is a courageous guy afterall.

Dec 22, 2011 10:03 AM Indian_Tatti Indian_Tatti  says: in response to Richard

We will not let Jay loose. We have recorded evidence against Infosys.

Video proofs will be shown in court of many employees.

Its over for Infosys.

Dec 25, 2011 10:57 AM hoapres hoapres  says: in response to Indian_Tatti

Any chance we will see the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal ever run an article on Infosys ??

I don't think so.

"Everybody does this stuff".  Tata, Infosys, Wipro are all one in the same.  Infosys just got caught.

Give Don credit for bringing up the issue but nothing is going to happen to Infosys.

Dec 25, 2011 11:52 AM Datruth Datruth  says: in response to hoapres

Not sure if anyone noticed but the recent law will now make all these so called IT workers American's very soon.... LOL! On another note, one of my friends a PhD from ivy league struggled to get her GC and is still struggling but these PMs from IT companies get it in a year...Holy cow! These fraudulent IT firms should be banished...



Dec 25, 2011 2:47 PM Indian_tatti Indian_tatti  says: in response to hoapres

I bet this is all over for Indian IT.

This matter is with FBI and they knew what is coming up.

If Infosys was to get away with this then case would have been over by now.

Dec 26, 2011 2:01 PM hoapres hoapres  says: in response to Indian_tatti

Only time will tell.

While I hope that things change, If history is any guide then nothing is going to change.

The fact that nobody except Don is even writing about Infosys says it all.

Dec 30, 2011 9:32 AM Richard Richard  says: in response to Richard

Well whatever be the situation.. 2012 is an important year for both Infosys and Jay Palmer. If jay wins then he is protecting America from further frauds at the hands of indian IT companies and also punishing Infosys, which has done lot of frauds in the IT space. However if Infosys wins then Jay will be in serious trouble and these fruadulent Indian companies will continue commiting such deeds unabated. Nobody in the future will try to be another Jay Palmer.

Dec 30, 2011 7:38 PM twins.fan twins.fan  says:

Don't count on the New York Times to publish any stories about H1B abuse.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has gotten a total pass on H1B abuse causing the CityTime project to go over budget by over 1000%.  The budget for the CityTime project was estimated to be $60 million, but so far has cost the taxpayers of NYC over $700 million largely because the work was being performed by cheap, entry level workers from TechnoDyne, and Indian H1B body shop.  The owners of the body shop, Reddy and Padma Allen have fled the country, returning to India, avoiding Federal subpoenas.

The New York Times has given Michael Bloomberg a total pass on this investigation inspite of the fact that Bloomberg continues to support the H1B visa.

Jan 2, 2012 3:50 PM Richard Richard  says: in response to twins.fan

Well that is an interesting article.

Read more : http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/nri/visa-and-immigration/it-companies-infosys-tcs-feel-the-pinch-as-us-holds-back-l-1-visas/articleshow/11344541.cms


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