Pakistani entrepreneurs arrested for allegedly stealing source code

Published: June 1, 2016
Tech in Asia
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Baqar Abbas Jafri, Sennen D’Souza, Hammad Ali Hashmi, and Waqar Ehsan were previously associated with The Nest I/O. DESIGN: ESSA MALIK

Baqar Abbas Jafri, Sennen D’Souza, Hammad Ali Hashmi, and Waqar Ehsan were previously associated with The Nest I/O. DESIGN: ESSA MALIK

Four members of a startup formerly incubated at Google-backed The Nest I/O have been arrested for infringing on intellectual property rights, according to local media reports in Pakistan.

The entrepreneurs run Investors Lounge, a portal for budding investors to see updated financial data on things like stocks, mutual funds, and commodities. It recently secured its first round of funding.

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The four individuals – Baqar Abbas Jafri, Sennen D’Souza, Hammad Ali Hashmi, and Waqar Ehsan – were previously associated with The Nest I/O, a startup incubator based in Karachi which has received funding from Google for Entrepreneurs, Samsung, and the US State Department.

The complainant in the case says the founders of Investors Lounge were its former employees. While at AMZ MAK Capital, they had been given the task of building a social media platform for investors. Instead they allegedly stole the source code and used it to build an alternative product with a few minor modifications.

“After the product was developed, all the above named four employees, along with the head of software programing and project head, quit at the same time taking the source code along with them,” says a statement from the complainant provided today to Tech in Asia. “The mastermind behind this fraud, Baqar Abbas Jafri, re-launched the same website few months later, which was the idea and property of AMZ MAK Capital, by changing a few interfaces while keeping the exact same idea and the source code.”

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Mir Mohammad Ali Khan, the CEO of AMZ MAK Capital, said he took to the courts to prevent the entrepreneurs from running away with the idea. After hearing the merits of the case, the judge decided to issue arrest warrants. The source code is valued at US$140,000.

A formal trial will now be held to determine the outcome of the case.

However, the team behind Investors Lounge categorically denies the accusations. In a press statement they said they “created new and original software code for Investors Lounge portal with the assistance of shared content recently purchased from recognised vendors with the specific intention of using such shared content for Investors Lounge only.”

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Jehan Ara, the head of Nest I/O, says the case is totally without any merit. “This is a false accusation,” she outlines. “I know these youngsters personally and the product was created from scratch […] It is heartbreaking and totally unjust that these young entrepreneurs who have struggled so much and worked so hard to get to this stage should be put through this. I stand by them.”

This article originally appeared on Tech in Asia

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Reader Comments (36)

  • Brainy Bhaijan
    Jun 1, 2016 - 4:34PM

    This Jehan Ara lady is talking crap. No company would go this far to recover their loss unless it did really happen.
    And nobody codes from scratch anyways.Recommend

  • Marzooq
    Jun 1, 2016 - 5:02PM

    Very sad. Being a software developer and having worked in software industry for more than 12 years, I can surely say, this cheap tactics often acquired by inexperienced developers, who dream to become a millionaire in months via shortcuts. A detailed look into the stealth code, algorithm, workflow, database schema, can reveal a lot. Even a consultants can be hired who can do code audit on both master and copied source code. Recommend

  • Abrar R
    Jun 1, 2016 - 5:07PM

    Even if they coded from the scratch, it’s not the code but the idea and features offered. If they are stolen then these boys should be ashamed.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Jun 1, 2016 - 5:17PM

    Hope we have qualified lawyers and judges to tackle such cases. These are modern day thefts for which our society is not prepared. Recommend

  • NA
    Jun 1, 2016 - 5:30PM

    This lady claim of creating things from scratch….how come she know it was from scratch as I can see this lady partying all the time and I can guarantee she don’t even know whats inside and how programming will be done.

    I agree we need to check the facts and figure and whats the motive behind this case but as employeer I’ve doubt thats these kids have stolen the idea atleast if not the source code.Recommend

  • Gemini
    Jun 1, 2016 - 6:15PM

    @NA: I know this lady for a long time as I am also associated with IT sector. She is good for nothing and believe me there are more talented people here in Pakistan other than these so called experts.Recommend

  • Frank
    Jun 1, 2016 - 6:35PM

    The concept of intellectual copyrights and copyrights in general is lost on majority of the public. Even if you write the code from scratch but if you have copied someone’s patent/proprietary idea without their permission then it’s fraud. They got what they deserved. Recommend

  • Batman
    Jun 1, 2016 - 6:52PM

    Jehan ara is talking nonsense, no company would go so far. Recommend

  • Insider
    Jun 1, 2016 - 6:56PM

    @Marzooq: Ironically none of these things happened or will happen in this case. The judge heard the court on merits and issued arrest warrants without code audit or checking the codes… this judiciary is literally a jokeRecommend

  • Jamal
    Jun 1, 2016 - 7:11PM

    Agree with the comment above that nobody creates code from scratch these days. It is really not hard to check whether it was original code or copied from elsewhere. Anyone with few years in software development can check this out. Those in this business know pretty well how “developers” work. Taking code base and design assets with them when they switch jobs is pretty much a common practice here.

    I also wonder if the complainant made its employees sign NDAs before hiring them. Surely, they launched a product similar to what they were doing for him so it seems to be a conflict of interest to me.Recommend

  • Khan
    Jun 1, 2016 - 7:13PM

    After the product was developed, all the above named four employees, along with the head of software programming and project head, quit at the same time taking the source code along with them,….. this is very telling. I have seen so many cases here in the US with exactly the same pattern. Problem is that once you write code you somehow feel it is yours :) Well it is not, it is property of the company you work for. So Ms. Jehan Ara has no clue what she is talking about unfortunately.Recommend

  • Investor
    Jun 1, 2016 - 7:15PM

    I personally know Baqar Jafri and MAK. Baqar is a credible, intelligent, innovative yet well-behaved young man, and has also been doing investor-awareness programs on PTV. Prior to Investor Lounge, he also founded investorguide360, which was a free online forum for investors to share market research and ideas among investors of stock markets.

    Mr MAK later partnered with Baqar in this investorguide360 project, and finally kicked Baqar out of this project making up false accusations against Baqar. Since MAK has spent a LOT of time in international markets abroad, and knows law really well, he gets away with such stunts against talented youth.

    MAK has been in the international media for fraud as well. Just google ‘Mir Mohammad Ali Khan fraud’ and you’ll know a bit of his background.Recommend

  • Adnan
    Jun 1, 2016 - 7:21PM

    Even if they built it from scratch (which is very unlikely), why they use someone else’s idea? They were clearly inspired by Mark Zuckerberg. All were quitting at same time and launching the same idea within months clearly a sign of code+idea theft and they should be punished for it. Being a software developer I don’t have any soft corner for such fellas.Recommend

  • Basit
    Jun 1, 2016 - 8:30PM

    @Abrar R:
    Ideas and features are not protected by intellectual property laws anywhere in the world. It’s only the code that’s protected. You can take an idea someone else has had and code it yourself. There is nothing wrong with that. Without it there would be no consumer choice because there would be only one software product of a certain type. Only one wordprocessor, one spreadsheet app, one operating system etc. Obviously that is not acceptable to anyone.

    Ideas don’t really have much value in and of themselves. Every entrepreneur learns that it takes three things to succeed. Idea, implementation and timing.Recommend

  • Malik
    Jun 1, 2016 - 10:06PM

    This is a question related to the code of ethics. ACM has formulated code of ethics for computing professionals. Some of our young graduates believe since they develop the code, they own it. It is hard for them to realize that they work FOR the company, Which pays them an agreed upon salary against their services. Code belongs to the company. There is also a potential conflict of interest in joining or establishing a rival company. I have become extremely careful in recommending graduates for jobs, as few guys recommended by me have committed similar unethical acts.Recommend

  • Nouman Ahmad
    Jun 1, 2016 - 10:20PM

    @Brainy Bhaijan:
    SEC gave ruling against Mir Mohammad Ali Khan. I hope you got your answer. Recommend

  • david
    Jun 2, 2016 - 3:07AM

    After researching a little bit about Mir Mohammad Ali Khan on google i can surely say that this guy is a fraud
    If you guys want to know more about this guy just search on google
    “mir mohammad ali khan nytimes” and click on the first link. Recommend

  • Salim Khan
    Jun 2, 2016 - 4:01AM

    Another Axact scam. Why are Pakistanis only known for Fraud?Recommend

  • Adnan Siddiqui
    Jun 2, 2016 - 6:10AM

    Jehan Ara doesn’t seem to know a thing about how the software industry works. If you work for a company, the code does not belong to you. It is like saying, I helped to make a Bentley, now let me drive it home.Recommend

  • SHN
    Jun 2, 2016 - 6:20AM

    Google “Mir Mohammed Ali Khan fraud” and you will come across multiple articles that are a clear reflection of his character, or lack thereof. Recommend

  • IKE
    Jun 2, 2016 - 6:42AM

    This would be a civil case all around the world. In Pakistan a Judge issues an arrest warrant. This Judge lost his mind. Very dangerous precedence. Recommend

  • Titan
    Jun 2, 2016 - 7:11AM

    “Entrepreneurs” really? These fraudsters as much of entrepreneurs as Axact was a “Software” company. This the reason why the world is suspicious of Pakistanis. Next time when you talk about Pakistan’s “maligned image” abroad, think about these cases.Recommend

  • Curious Paki
    Jun 2, 2016 - 10:33AM

    They can kiss their careers good bye.Recommend

  • Jun 2, 2016 - 10:43AM

    very sad news why google doing this with entrepuner?Recommend

  • Whistle Blower
    Jun 2, 2016 - 12:17PM

    http://www.nytimes.com/2000/01/02/business/was-he-wiser-than-the-wise-guys.html?pagewanted=all

    A NY time article outlining the story of Mir Muhammad Ali Khan, as rise an fall of an empire. It’s a must read before judging this whole Cover Story.Recommend

  • Jun 2, 2016 - 1:06PM

    Interesting to see an article on the person suing them.

    For whatever else he is, Mr. Khan is a fugitive from justice in New York, where state prosecutors accused him last spring of stealing millions of dollars from several of his brokerage firm’s customers — including some who also happened to be members of the Gambino organized crime family.

    This may give all some background:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2000/01/02/business/was-he-wiser-than-the-wise-guys.html?pagewanted=all

    https://insidefinancialmarkets.com/mir-muhammad-ali-khan-in-controversy-again/Recommend

  • Adil
    Jun 2, 2016 - 1:59PM

    Arrested? Where does it say you can arrest somebody for stealing ideas and allegedly “stealing code”. There has to be proper proceedings!Recommend

  • Jehan A.
    Jun 2, 2016 - 9:57PM

    I understand your point of views people. But these guys work for nest/IO we have to back them up. Please they are young people they could sell the idea better than MAK. Besides, they wrote the code from scratch. Support our young entrepreneurs people. Recommend

  • faisal
    Jun 2, 2016 - 10:25PM

    If they have re-developed the code using the knowledge they have gained then it is not illegal unless there was some non-compete clause in their job contract for a certain period of time. Even in that case, it should be proven that the code originated from the complainant side and it violates the non-compete clause.

    If it is the case of “somebody stole my bright idea” then PASHA or NEST I/O should back investors lounge as this kind of thing will give a chance to big players to eat small players simply on the grounds that they stole our idea even though the new players were providing another product which does the same thing. Imagine people being arrested for making an ERP or CRM on grounds that Microsoft thinks that they have stole some ideas from Dynamics.

    If the complainant doesn’t provide evidence that investors lounge actually stole the code then they should be sued for a big amount like a billion rs or something with full backing of IT industry raising voices over social media or whatever platform.Recommend

  • Kamran Khalidi
    Jun 3, 2016 - 2:53AM

    Jehan Ara is a disgrace to Pakistani IT & Software industry. She is just making money for herself through all these network of VCs. Google should seriously think twice before rolling out funds into the hands of people like Jehan Ara who are teaching unethical practices to the young software entrepreneurs.Recommend

  • Yusuf Jan
    Jun 3, 2016 - 10:40AM

    I know the founders of Investors Lounge (Baqar, Sennen, and Hammad). I mentored them while they were at the Nestio and I was willing to invest in them.

    I found them to be highly professional, passionate, and lovable personalities. Baqar, through his hard work, has build a tremendous network in the financial community. His network / relationships are his – not the property of a previous employer.

    Baqar and Sennen are honest and for the sake of transparency themselves volunteered all they went through at AMZ MAK. I reviewed the information and in my opinion the idea/ concept was Baqar’s from the start. There was convincing evidence that they had done nothing wrong.

    As far as the source code is concerned, I inquired and I was assured that they wrote their own source code. Anyways, the Investors Lounge is more of a social community site where financial information is shared and discussed by users. It is not a proprietary trading platform.
    Any one can put up such a site — the real substance is in the founders understanding of the financial markets and the founders invaluable network/reach in the financial community.

    Please lets support Baqar, Sennen, and Hammad! Recommend

  • sehar
    Jun 3, 2016 - 11:52AM

    AMZ MAK people took the legal route. Isn’t that a good thing for Pakistan ? isn’t it good that they believe in the judicial process? And as i read it, They went to the judge first instead of going to the police station which means they had all the proof and they must have given the proof first to the judge. who goes to the judge first unless you are on the right path.Recommend

  • hamza
    Jun 3, 2016 - 11:57AM

    AMZ MAK people took the legal route. Isn’t that a good thing for Pakistan ? isn’t it good that they believe in the judicial process? And as i read it, They went to the judge first instead of going to the police station which means they had all the proof and they must have given the proof first to the judge. who goes to the judge first unless you are on the right path.Recommend

  • Super baaka
    Jun 3, 2016 - 12:08PM

    @Jehan A.:

    I just want to know what due deligence did you in person applied before taking in those boys at Nest I/O ?Recommend

  • Code IT
    Jun 6, 2016 - 7:17PM

    Please all of you who are blaming Ms Jahan Ara and Mr Baqar take some time and study their profiles and past as compare to Mir Muhammad ALi Khan. i have personally study not only one but series of fraud committed by Mr khan.

    This is you responsibility to support truth as muslim and pakistani.

    Thanks for your time!Recommend

  • Sadaf
    Jul 8, 2016 - 6:42AM

    Google “Mir Mohammed Ali Khan fraud” and you will come across multiple articles that are a clear reflection of his character, or lack thereof.Recommend

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