As proceedings began today, a two-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar ordered to place the name of Axact chief Shoaib Shaikh and six other accused on the Exit Control List (ECL).
At the last hearing of the case on Wednesday, Chief Justice Nisar had observed that anyone found associated with the scandal will not be spared. He had also summoned the accused today.
Axact claims to be the “world’s largest IT company” and operates hundreds of fake online universities run by agents from a Karachi-based call centre.
At the last hearing, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General Bashir Memon had informed the court about the status of the case. The FIA chief informed the bench that Axact’s headquarter is located in Karachi, adding that the scandal first surfaced in May 2015 after the publication of an article in a foreign publication. He added that employees on one floor of the organisation’s office often did not know what was happening on other floors.
Memon stated that websites of 330 global universities were created from Karachi, adding that the numbers on the sites would be foreign but were received in Karachi.
Responding to the chief justice’s query about the status of cases against Axact, the FIA chief informed that the agency lodged four cases in total.
“In two cases, the suspects were exonerated, the decisions of which were challenged in the high courts,” Memon said, adding that one case is under way in Karachi while the one in Peshawar is yet to start.
Responding to the statement, the chief justice summoned the registrars of Islamabad and Sindh high courts at the next hearing.
“The country’s name is being brought into disrepute,” the chief justice had observed.
The chief justice had taken suo motu notice of the scandal on January 19.
Axact claims to be the “world’s largest IT company” and operates hundreds of fake online universities run by agents from a Karachi-based call centre. In 2015, it sold more than 215,000 fake qualifications globally through approximately 350 fictitious high schools and universities, making $51m (£37.5m) that year alone.
Axact’s chief executive was arrested and an investigation launched by the Pakistani authorities after a New York Times expose in 2015. A senior manager of the company, Umair Hamid, was sentenced to 21 months in a US prison in August 2017 for his part in Axact’s fraud.