Axact-gate scandal: FIA’s forensic experts called in

Published: May 22, 2015
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PHOTO COURTESY: FORBES

PHOTO COURTESY: FORBES

KARACHI: 

The Federal Investigation Agency’s forensic experts from Lahore, Islamabad and Quetta visited Axact headquarters in the upscale Defence neighbourhood of Karachi on Thursday to expedite the ongoing investigation into the software company.

The probe was ordered by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar after a New York Times exposé claimed that Axact was running a “fake education empire”.

For two consecutive days after the special report’s publication, FIA teams raided the company’s head office in Karachi and regional offices in the twin-cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Thursday wasn’t any different for Axact’s Karachi staff, as the investigators’ comings and goings were quite difficult to keep track of.

The forensic experts kept working on the company’s confiscated computers, trying to find out about all the businesses it has been involved in.

The FIA team also confiscated educational degrees, diplomas and certificates, as well as stamp machines from Axact’s office. On FIA Sindh Director Shahid Hayat’s directives, many senior officials, including Ashfaq Alam Khan, Altaf Hussain and Mohammad Ali Abro, are participating in the investigation to complete it at the earliest.

Sources said the investigators have seized some of the hardware and computers from the head office, and recorded statements of top officials of different departments.

The FIA’s major focus on Thursday was on Axact’s well-known call centre. However, the investigators also continued to concentrate on the company’s IT department.

It is believed that the students outside Pakistan were being contacted through the call centres. The investigation teams hope to obtain solid proof of Axact’s involvement in the illegal business.

CEO no-show

Despite being issued notices, Axact CEO Shoaib Sheikh didn’t appear before the FIA on Thursday, following which another notice was issued to him, directing him to appear before the investigators within 48 hours.

The officials said the court would be involved if Sheikh failed to respond to the notice.

Low attendance

Ever since the FIA has started visiting Axact headquarters, the attendance of the company’s employees has been low. Sources said the attendance was lower on Thursday, adding that routine work at the company has been suspended since the investigation was launched.

The employees that do go to work appear to be afraid of facing the journalists camped outside the head office. Every employee tries to leave the premises discreetly.

“I don’t think the senior employees will resume their jobs,” an employee conjectured. He said every member of the staff, from top to bottom, felt insecure in the present circumstances. “How can an employee face the FIA’s questions and the media’s cameras?”

Dubai office closed

In a major twist to the fake degree scam, UAE daily Khaleej Times has found out that Axact’s offices in Dubai have remained closed for more than two years.

Khaleej Times visited three locations listed as Axact offices in online business directories and found only one bearing the company’s name: a small leased space inside a business centre managed by Tecom in Dubai Media City is all that remains of Axact’s Dubai operations.

“Nobody has visited this office in the last two years and it hasn’t been opened even once,” said a security guard working at a business centre leased by Axact. “The owner is never here, but we do receive a few couriers occasionally.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2015.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Xman
    May 22, 2015 - 9:27AM

    Every couple of years a fresh mega story of fraud and deceit comes out of Pakistan. Double shah, stock market crash, money laundering, water kit you name it (by the way, most of these scandals are driven by educated people). This actually points to a bigger problem, there is something seriously wrong with the education system in Pakistan, that’s not building ethics and values in citizens. Most importantly people don’t realise that reputation and good will is as important as any financial asset for a country, so it’s important government is taking swift action to protect trust equity on the international level, and do some damage control.Recommend

  • May 22, 2015 - 11:52AM

    Please also investigate why DHA Karachi only allowed them to build the tallest building in the area against the bye-laws. Must be investigated.Recommend

  • Haxan
    May 22, 2015 - 12:17PM

    Feel bad for young people employed there, don’t blame them for working there. The main root cause is higher unemployment rate, I applied there too when I was desperately looking for job despite knowing the rumors of their shady business. I hope their careers doesn’t effect by all this.Recommend

  • Ashraf
    May 22, 2015 - 1:03PM

    How many students would have ruined their parents’ finances just to cater to the geed of one criminal!Recommend

  • Aanam
    May 22, 2015 - 3:16PM

    The FIA must start their investigation with the Sales team those who work day and night in Axact. The luxuries which are offered by Axact to their employees that’s commendable even though it was my dream to work in Axact but not anymore.
    Can anyone from Axact answer these questions specially those who are favouring their company in their social networks.
    1- Is the image of Pakistan built up with fake education system . You all the Axactians must got the degree from any reputable university like IBA, IQRA IOBM, BIZTEK, NED, KU etc. but how do you feel when you people go to abroad for Jobs they asked you are your degrees original? So Axactians how would you feel?
    2- The CEO of Axact manipulating that day on his interview at ARY NEWS programme.
    as per to him how PEPSI & POLO knows about his clientele so for the knowledge of AXACTIANS the pepsi & polo are FMCG Product companies where as Axact is a Service company so obviously for service oriented companies there backbone is their DATABASE and hows it possible the company like AXACT which is the no 1 leading IT company don’t have the database. Seriously it’s so strange.
    3- Now if we talk about BOL relationship with AXACT so there’s no comparison of it. BOL can be a good and no.1 channel in Pakistan and provides lot of good opportunity for fresh graduates. it’s not the war between channels & AXACT.
    its about the integrity and image of Pakistan.
    4- One last question which I want AXACTIAN’S to answer is that I am sure your siblings are studying in abroad universities how do you people feel when they came back to Pak and they find out that their degrees are Fake. How your parents would feel when their dreams broken up.
    Think about it Axactian. it’s the time to stand against evil powers.Recommend

  • M.A Marri
    May 22, 2015 - 3:19PM

    One must be very clear that this illegal flourished only to serve the people seeking shortcuts for success in life. This scandal has brought a stigma for entire nation and from now and onwards our young degree holders would have to go through a painful scrutiny process everywhere they apply. It is a lesson for those who believe in shortcuts and “money can buy anything”.Recommend

  • pak patriot
    May 22, 2015 - 7:53PM

    dear editor- as a Pakistani I feel bad that our country is becoming famous for all the wrong things/reasons-
    a) This Axact degree crisis is a big blot on our image- imagine doing such a nasty thing against educational ethics. Now who will trust us.
    b) we were involved in the biggest banking scam in the uae – Bank of credit and commerce
    c) our military was involved in killing 3 million east Pakistanis during the Bangladesh uprising.
    4) 46 ismailis were killed a few weeks back- knowing that our founder Jinnah sahib was a shia
    5) Osama bin laden was found in our own backyard
    6) we encouraged the 26/11 crisis in Mumbai and killed 166 Indians- both hindus and muslims
    7) we were running the biggest nuclear supermarket selling technology to all states.

    Now what are we proud of… Recommend

  • syed & syed
    May 23, 2015 - 1:00AM

    When our children is encouraged for cheating and passing examination by this way. They certainly go for higher degrees in any case. How many fake degree holders are serving in Pakistan, certainly on high posts or they siblings of higher aristocrats. Only FIA is whiling away the time and giving chance to responsible persons of EXACT to flee from the country. Why their name is not on ECL list.The person responsible to grant license to Exact should also be traced and punished if FIA have powerRecommend

  • Malik Imran
    May 23, 2015 - 1:32AM

    Its really hard to understand how someone can run business of fake diplomas. There might be some corruption at some level but we should not make a mistake of BCCI. Recommend

  • talha
    Jun 1, 2015 - 11:22PM

    can any one tell me what control the government must taking to stop these kind of scandal in future??? Recommend

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