‘Won’t spare anyone found involved in Axact degree scam’

* CJP Saqib Nisar summons all accused on 9th

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) director general to produce all the accused in the Axact fake degree case, including principal accused Shoaib Sheikh on February 9.

A three-member Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, also directed the FIA to produce record of all cases constituted in the Axact fake degree scam. The court summoned the registrars of Islamabad High Court and Sindh High Court.

During the hearing, the chief justice said that whosoever found associated with the Axact scam would not be spared. He asked FIA Director General Bashir Ahmad Memon, who appeared on notice, as to why the case once faded was being highlighted again.

He said if the news about the scam were correct, then the people involved in it should be dealt with an iron hand to prevent such scams in the future.

However, he said, if the news were false then Pakistan should defend itself internationally, as the scam was tarnishing the country’s name and image globally. He said no one would be spared and the name of everyone would be placed on the Exit Control List.

Memon stated that the Axact scam first surfaced on May 15, 2015 after the publication of an article in a foreign publication. He said Axact has 10 business units and one of them deals in online education, which generates about 70 % percent of its total income. He said that that the FIA had registered four cases against the accused.

He stated that in two of the cases, the accused were acquitted, adding that the decisions of their acquittal were challenged before the high courts. He said one case was under adjudication in Karachi, whereas one case was pending in Peshawar. He said a professor, who got a fake degree from Axact, was the brother of a judicial officer, thus the case could not be preceded against him. He stated that two cases were lodged in Islamabad, and both the accused had secured bails. He said a judicial officer was accused of taking bribe in the case.

According to recent national and international news reports, over 3,000 citizens of UK had purchased the fake degrees from Axact in 2013 and 2014.

A few months earlier, an in-depth investigation carried out by national broadcaster of Canada revealed that hundreds of people working in diverse fields across Canada possessed bogus degrees issued by Axact.

According to news reports, 31-year old Umair Hamid from Karachi, a vice president of Axact, was sentenced to 21 months in prison in the US in 2017 for his role in the international diploma mill scheme. On April 6, 2017, Mr Hamid had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. After that he was ordered to forfeit $5,303,020.

Published in Daily Times, February 8th 2018.