Axact CEO and centre of a massive fake degree fraud, Shoaib Ahmad Shaikh was taken into custody in the early hours of Wednesday from his office.¬†In the presence of officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) as well as police,
Shaikh was taken away in a white vehicle.¬†Sheikh and seven other directors will be produced before a banking court on Wednesday morning.¬†
The arrest came after an FIA raid on the Axact office on Khayaban-e-Ittehad, where officials said a large number of university degrees and student identification cards were recovered.¬†Shaikh had earlier requested the Sindh High Court to grant him protective bail against a ‚Äėpotential arrest‚Äô in the fake degrees probe currently being undertaken by the FIA. However, his request was dismissed Monday, as the bench did not find any merit in his application.¬†The FIA has decided to file a case against Shaikh. According to FIA officials, Shaikh would formally be arrested after registeration of a first information report (FIR).¬†
Last week, action against Axact kicked off after Nisar ordered an inquiry into the story published by The New York Times that claimed the company was issuing fake degrees as part of a massive, global scam. ¬†The minister in his directive also said that the FIA was to determine whether the contents of the NYT story were true and whether the company was involved in any illegal business which may bring a “bad name” to Pakistan.¬†
The detailed NYT report titled “Fake Diplomas, Real Cash: Pakistani Company Axact Reaps Millions” and written by New York Times Pakistan bureau chief Declan Walsh outlined how Axact ‚ÄĒ referred to as a “secretive Pakistani software company” ‚ÄĒ allegedly earned millions of dollars from scams involving fake degrees, non-existent online universities and manipulation of customers.¬†According to the report, Axact created a series of fake websites involving ‚Äúprofessors‚ÄĚ and students who it said were in fact paid actors.¬†
FIA officers swooped on the Karachi headquarters of the company last week, seizing equipment and records and expelling employees from the building.¬†The company’s Rawalpindi office had also been sealed and employees questioned, an official said requesting anonymity.¬†The interior minister also assured that the ministry will not bear the pressure from any individual regarding the investigation of the Axact scandal and the investigation will be fair and transparent in this regard.