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Visa woes: Infosys hires top criminal lawyer in US

Last updated on: September 8, 2011 10:52 IST

Visa woes: Infosys hires top criminal lawyer in US

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Bibhu Ranjan Mishra in Bengaluru


Infosys, India's third-largest information technology services company, is putting in all-out efforts to douse the visa fire that erupted almost six months ago, with the filing of a lawsuit by one of its United States employees, and is spreading wings further.

In the latest move, the Bengaluru-headquartered company is understood to have hired a noted criminal lawyer in the US, Stephen A Jonas, and his law firm, WilmerHale, to defend it in all kinds of criminal matters pertaining to the alleged visa misuse case, according to highly-placed sources.

Jonas, a partner in WilmerHale's litigation/controversy department and the chair of the firm's investigations and criminal litigation practice group, represents major corporations and their officers and directors in criminal matters, according to the law firm's website.

The firm claims it has over 1,000 lawyers and offices in 12 cities in the US, Europe and Asia. It counts AT&T, Boeing, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, EMC, General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Honda, Lufthansa and Novartis, among its major corporate clients.

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Photographs: Reuters
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While an email sent to Jonas on his official email ID remained unanswered, Infosys said, "The company would not like to offer any comment on this matter."

Earlier this month, Infosys relocated its group HR head Nandita Gurjar to the US for a temporary period. Gurjar is expected to oversee the entire investigation process engaging with local employees.

The company, however, says Gurjar will help in increasing recruitment in the US by setting up a strong HR function. It has also appointed a HR head dedicated for the Americas.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Meanwhile, Infosys hired Vasudev Nayak, the former head of overseas operations cell at Wipro, who is said to be an expert on immigration issues. Nayak replaced Eshan Joshi, an associate vice president and head of immigration department, who is on a sabbatical now, according to the company spokesperson.

According to sources, Infosys is said to be under pressure to furnish all details to the US federal authorities, who are in the last lap of their investigation.

The case filed by Jack Palmer, the first Infosys whistleblower in the alleged visa misuse issue, is sub judice.

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Photographs: Reuters
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"I can tell you that it is my understanding that the federal authorities are close to completing their investigation and if Infosys does not reach some kind of settlement soon, charges and possibly indictments will be filed Generally, in our country, when individuals and companies are caught violating our laws, the government will recommend lighter jail terms and fines when the violators cooperate, make changes and voluntarily agree to a fair punishment," Palmer's lawyer, Kenneth J Mendelsohn, told Business Standard in an email.

Palmer's laptop, understood to have contained "substantial documentation of Infosys' crimes", is currently with the investigators of the federal authorities.

Sources say even though Infosys was 'pressuring' Palmer to return the laptop to the company, this could not happen, as the federal authorities served legal papers on him to give the laptop to the investigators.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Ever since Palmer brought the alleged visa misuse issue to the notice, two more whistleblowers have filed complaints on the same issue. The third whistleblower's complaint is said to be more serious, as it has been filed by one of Infosys' HR staff in the US.

In the mail to Jefferey Friedel, Infosys' counsel in the US who is overseeing the visa issue, the complainant is understood to have given specific instances of visa misuse in the banking and capital markets division, according various reports.

Infosys derives close to 65 per cent of its revenues from North America and employs about 13,000 employees in the region, including H1 and L1 visa holders.


Photographs: Reuters
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