The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dutch scare on I-flex executives

Mumbai, March 27: An I-flex boss was detained in London and 14 employees handed marching orders in the Netherlands in a replay of the travails that have stalked Indian software professionals working overseas.

There was no word on why I-flex top gun V. Senthil Kumar was held, but there are indications that Dutch requests forced the hand of authorities in the UK. Those asked to leave the Netherlands are apparently facing the predicament because of visa wrangles, an I-flex release said this evening after news of the arrests broke.

“Some employees in the Netherlands were questioned on Wednesday. Most of them have been asked to leave the country within a week,” the release added. Kumar, the London-based CEO of I-flex’s Dutch subsidiary, is cooling his heels as part of the same probe.

I-flex said it could not gauge the exact scope of the probe, but information gleaned from employees who were quizzed points towards visa matters. Sleuths are believed to have asked for explanations on why staff in the Netherlands did not have “work permits” with them.

The company’s lawyers in the UK and the Netherlands have got in touch with the respective authorities. It has asked the ministries of external affairs and information technology, Nasscom and consulates to use their good offices for the release of Kumar.

The I-flex share went into a tailspin, plunging to an intra-day low of Rs 881.10 from a peak of Rs 941.80 before closing at Rs 911.15 on the BSE — down Rs 4.50 from its last finish.

This is the third instance in recent months that Indian software companies have had run-ins with foreign immigration authorities. Recently, the ill-treatment of software professionals in Malaysia snowballed into a diplomatic duel that left sports and business ties ruptured.

Earlier, the Polaris chief was detained by Indonesian authorities on a complaint filed by a local finance company. In that case too, the external affairs authorities were forced to intervene on behalf of Polaris.

Meanwhile, I-flex said it is working towards ensuring the early and safe return of the employees and their families from the Netherlands, where the firm mainly supplies software solutions for banks.

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