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?