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Infosys Whistleblower Provides Hard-hitting Testimony to Senate Hearing

Don Tennant

The world is finally getting the opportunity today to hear directly from Jay Palmer, the Infosys whistleblower whose lawsuit alleging visa and tax fraud sparked an ongoing U.S. government criminal investigation of Infosys, as Palmer has provided written testimony to a Senate subcommittee that's holding a hearing on immigration reform. The subcommittee is likely to be blown away by that testimony, because Palmer, finally free to speak his mind, is doing just that.

 

At the request of the office of Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Palmer submitted his testimony to today's Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, at its hearing on "The Economic Imperative for Enacting Immigration Reform." This is how he introduced himself:

I am currently employed by Infosys as a Principal Consultant in the Enterprise Solutions Practice and have been so employed since August, 2008. In this capacity, I witnessed and received emails, screen-shots and other documents proving that Infosys intentionally violated our visa and tax laws for the purpose of increasing revenues. I filed an internal Whistleblower Complaint that was ignored. In January 2011, with the help of my attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn, I reported these violations and have been cooperating with the State Department, Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service, and other agencies in a criminal investigation against Infosys and some of its employees. I am considered a Federal Witness and am afforded protection under this recognition. My cooperation has led to a Grand Jury investigation of Infosys. Due to an ongoing criminal investigation I will purposely not divulge certain facts for obvious reasons.

Palmer encapsulated the underlying visa problem faced by Infosys, and his introduction to it, this way:

From August 2008 until March 2010 my employment at Infosys had been a good experience and I enjoyed much success with my colleagues and customers. Factually speaking, I had been recognized by customers and Infosys management for exceptional work. In March of 2010, as a result of hard work and delivering success at Baker Hughes Oil, an Infosys client, I was invited to India. The work at Baker Hughes Oil implemented technology to assist in preventive measures which could avoid future oils spills such as that in the Gulf of Mexico. Hence the invitation to Infosys headquarters in Bangalore, India for an Enterprise Solutions "Actionize" planning meeting. As a Principal in the company, this was an honor for me and I was the only American invited from my practice. During the meeting one of the topics was the H-1B visa "crisis". During these meetings in India, it was discussed that there was the need to and that there were ways to "creatively" get around these H-1B limitations and processes and to work the system in order to increase profits and the value of Infosys' stock. Much of this was very new to me and I did not fully understand the implications of these decisions at the time. It was made very clear that Infosys was going to continue and increase the use of the B1 visa program to get around the tough restrictions the U. S. had placed on the H-1B program by sending lower level and unskilled Infosys Indians to the U.S. to fulfill the high demand for its customers at a lower cost to Infosys. (Please note that at a time of economic volatility and crisis in the U.S., Infosys stock tripled.) There was no monitoring of the B1 system and it was understood that "no one would ever know." Infosys also decided to flood the consulate with applications in order to get as many approved as possible no matter the level of an individual's skill. This was totally about profit and not hiring Americans for jobs in the U.S. due to higher salary requirements. This was confirmed to me by several current and former HR staff members. Their names have been turned over to federal investigators. It was my understanding that Infosys submitted upwards of over 7,000 applications thinking that if some were approved it would be a win for increased profit margins.

Palmer went on to recount much of the activity that was outlined in his lawsuit against Infosys. I have reported on those allegations extensively, so there is no need to rehash them all here. Suffice it to say that the gist of his testimony can be gleaned from some damning excerpts:

I filed an Internal Whistleblower Complaint in regards to the illegal activities, including B1 Visa Fraud and illegal I-9 activity.

 

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Additionally, an HR manager and I provided [Infosys corporate counsel] Jeff [Friedel] with [information on] thousands of people who had never filed LCA (Labor Condition Application) paperwork to work in different states. I also gave him cases in which Infosys managers were intentionally committing fraud to avoid paying state and local taxes.


 

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An [Infosys] HR manager stated that "it has been a long known problem and we can't do anything, it's just the way we do business and we can't control what they do in India."

 

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I also researched and validated that I had illegal people on projects since August 2008 when I joined Infosys. Additionally, other inside Infosys employees provided me with information of illegal B1 workers at Wal-Mart, Johnson Controls, Goldman Sachs, American Express and other customers.

 

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I think it is important for this Committee to understand the lengths that Infosys has taken to cover up these crimes and to retaliate against me. I am not asking for help from the Committee; that will come through the judicial system. This is important because based on the communications my attorney and I have received there are numerous people with more information of wrongful conduct not just by Infosys but many other companies as well. However, these people have expressed their fears of retaliation if they come forward. Based on the way I have been threatened, harassed and retaliated against, it is easy to understand their concerns.

 

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Infosys has totally alienated me from the company. They will not let me work on a project at a client site, will not let me into an Infosys office, and I cannot participate in company pursuits of business. I sit at home. No one calls me or emails me or will have anything to do with me. This is after they told me I have done nothing wrong and they would protect me. This is the most blatant disregard of a Whistleblower's rights. Infosys has maliciously violated the spirit of the Whistleblower policy and the law. On July 18, 2011, I filed yet another Whistleblower complaint in regards to the continued harassment. I even copied senior management including the CEO and CFO, and have received no response.

Palmer closed his testimony with an appeal for justice:

The abuse of the B1 and H1 visa laws as well as the income tax laws is widespread in this country. Americans are being displaced and foreigners are working full-time jobs in the U.S. without paying income taxes. It is somewhat ironic that as this Subcommittee meets and considers my testimony, our President and Congress are facing very difficult financial debt ceiling decisions. In these difficult times, it is inconceivable that Infosys and other foreign companies are avoiding paying income taxes and abusing visa laws and then laughing and calling those who stand up for what is right "stupid Americans." My real-life experiences have educated me to the point that if Congress decides that an increase of Green Cards or legal work visas in the U.S. is a must, then there should be limitations or ratios. For example, for every H-1B visa issued to a foreign national company, they should have to hire an American worker. Let me ask the committee, what about our economy? What about the years and years of ignoring the laws? These companies maliciously do not hire Americans and look at ways to circumvent policy and law instead of working with it. Look at the stock and growth of these large foreign companies in a down environment -- they are not suffering. However, they are still asking for more "handouts" to increase their margin. Every company is out to make a profit, but when you knowingly defraud the system it is concerning. I have witnessed outsourcing companies bring over H-1B talent that have been trained by American workers and then they replaced the American workers. Does this not violate the spirit of the H-1B laws? The only specialized talent these workers have is they work for a said company and then transfer the work to offshore teams. These are tasks that an existing worker could perform.

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