By Aamir Latif
A Pakistani court on Wednesday remanded in custody the chief executive and six directors of the Axact Group over claims of selling fake qualifications online.
Shoaib Shaikh and the directors were arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Tuesday night after the discovery of “hundreds of thousands” of fake degree certificates at the company’s Karachi headquarters.
Axact, which claims to be one the world’s largest IT companies and is the parent company of one of Pakistan’s biggest media groups, was identified in a New York Times report earlier this month as having sold degrees from 300 universities that did not exist.
Axact & BOL’s Chairman & CEO Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh
The report alleged that Axact would sell online degrees for $350 to $4,000 in a range of subjects. Most buyers were Americans who wanted to join the U.S. armed forces.
Shaikh appeared in a Karachi district court in handcuffs to be remanded until June 7.
“We have found hundreds of thousands of fake degrees from the office of Axact Group,” Shahid Hayat, director general of the FIA in Sindh province, told reporters after Tuesday’s raid. “We believe that we have sufficient evidence to lodge a case and arrest the owner and other concerned persons.”
In addition to the charges, the FIA has also closed 34 bank accounts belonging to Axact.
Axact is the parent company of the BOL media group, which launched its TV channel. Several senior journalists including the president and CEO of BOL have quit in the wake of the scandal. (Anadolu Ajansi)