Axact Collapses With CEO Shoaib Malik’s Arrest

Late Tuesday night, the Axact CEO Shoaib Ahmed Sheikh was arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) after investigators unearthed hundreds of thousands of forged student ID cards and degrees from a secret office of the firm in Karachi. The CEO was being escorted by several law enforcement officials out of the Axact office and in a car according to the television footage that was shown. He was reportedly taken to the human trafficking detention center of the FIA. Last week, the New York Times did an exposé on Axact and said they were running a multimillion-dollar worldwide fake degree scam.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had ordered an inquiry against the firm a day after the article was published. The FIA found huge stacks of degree templates belonging to different universities at the building. In a late night swoop, a team of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of the Sindh police headed by DSP Amir Hameed, along with the Sindh Director-General of the FIA, Shahid Hayat arrived at the Karachi office of Axact. The action occurred hours after investigators had concluded their interrogation of the CEO, which had begun on Tuesday morning at 11 a.m.

When talking to the media, the FIA’s Director-General said that hundreds of templates of fake degrees had been discovered, all belonging to different universities, at the office after information had been received by the FIA about the site of the printing operations of the company. Hayat said that they received information about the site of Axact’s printing operations and the office had been opened in the presence of a magistrate. He said that there was a huge number of student ID cards and fake degree templates found, enough to lodge a case against the firm’s CEO and also the company itself.

Along with six other directors, Sheikh was taken into custody by the FIA. A case was registered against the company and the CEO with sections pertaining to cybercrimes and money-laundering incorporated in the FIR. He said that the CEO would be presented in court on Wednesday for remand. They didn’t just find degrees, but also thousands of student ID cards and accreditation certificates were recovered from the office, which had been raided by the investigators in the presence of Judicial Magistrate Javed Malik.

In the NYT report, Axact hadn’t been accused of just issuing fake degrees and diplomas, but also running a parallel bogus accreditation system, which had even carried verifications in the form of forged signatures of John Kerry of the US State Department. Malik informed the media that the site of the printing operations had been pointed out by the CEO himself. An official with knowledge of the matter said that Shaikh had misbehaved with the FIA investigators after which orders for booking him had been issued by the interior minister. Sources also revealed that headed by Inspector Mobin, the FIA team had been stopped at the entrance of the Axact office in DHA so they had sought the assistance of SIU.