Pakistan Expands Probe in Fake Degree Mill

On Wednesday, Pakistan authorities expanded their investigation into the matter of Axact and the scandal associated with it, only a day after the company’s offices had been raided in prominent cities of the country. A probe is ongoing into the fake degree scandal by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Pakistan after the entire thing had been revealed by The New York Times.

Kamran Atta Allah, the Deputy Director of FIA, said that the needed data had been gathered from the company’s offices and a forensic team would examine it. According to FIA sources, a decision regarding extending the investigation of the Axact offices in Dubai and approaching the UAE authorities in this matter would be taken after the home probe is completed.

An official working at the Pakistan Consulate General in Dubai said that they are aware of the matter and the UAE authorities would only be contacted when the FIA contacted them. The company has also been asked by the Revenue Board of Pakistan to provide details of their contract with Axact in Dubai.

Also the inquiry officer of FIA, Atta Allah told Pakistani media that all necessary and required records had been taken in custody for conducting a detailed inquiry of the dealings, transactions and accounts. He further said that noticed had been served to Chief Executive officer and owner of Axact, Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh for appearing in the FIA office so his statement can be recorded.

According to FIA sources, the computers and main servers of Axact had huge terabytes of data and a great deal of time was required for copying the data and carrying out a complete forensic examination. The tax collection authority has also stated that Axact has been served with notices for demanding explanation about its general tax and income issue. Sources from the Sindh Board of Revenue said that the firm had 600,000 shareholders, but the names of only two were listed on record.

However, other sources have said that one share is held by Shaikh himself while another belongs to his wife, Ayesha. On Wednesday, Chaudry Nisar Ali, the Interior Minister said that this issue is very time consuming and sensitive and the scandal has given rise to questions concerning Pakistan's reputation. When he spoke to the media, he said that the probe by the FIA would be completely transparent and would be done without any pressure, whatsoever.

He said that a committee comprising of seven people had been formed and no arrests had been made up till now. But, the FIA is interrogating several people connected to this scandal. He also said that no individual had been put on the Exit Control List (ECL), but they will be questioning everyone involved in this matter. Notices haven’t just been issued to the CEO, but to a total of ten directors. He asserted that while the case wasn’t strictly under the category of criminal cases, it was still related to cybercrime to the FIA’s Cyber-Crime and Corporate Wings are investigating the issue.