KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency team arrived at the headquarters of IT company Axact to continue its probe which was launched after a New York Times report claimed the company was...
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) team arrived at the headquarters of IT company Axact to continue its probe which was launched after a New York Times (NYT) report claimed the company was reaping millions from selling fake degrees.
The FIA had left two personnel overnight at the headquarters and this morning the Deputy Director FIA Corporate Crime Circle Kamran Atta arrived followed by Assistant Director Corporate Crime Circle Saeed Memon.
The investigation agency also continued its probe at Axact offices in Rawalpindi.
FIA seeks details from Axact CEO
FIA has sought details from CEO of Axact Shoaib Shaikh over the fake degree scandal. The FIA in a letter has asked the Axact CEO to provide addresses of institutions which provide online degrees. Information of students who obtained the degrees has also been sought.
Asset details of Axact, salaries of employees and information of bank accounts has also been sought by the FIA.
Unaware of Axact scandal during PPP govt rule: Zardari
Former President Asif Ali Zardari told Hamid Mir on ‘Capital Talk’ that he was unaware of the Axact fake degree scandal when the PPP government was in power.
Mr Zardari added that even as president he was not provided with any information pertaining to Axact.
The former president said: “The FBR, other departments, FIA and intelligence agencies should be asked how they (Axact) were working.”
Axact scandal probe will be transparent
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the FIA probe into the Axact scandal would be transparent and will be carried out without any pressure.
Nisar told reporters the scandal had raised a question on Pakistan’s reputation. He added that the seven member committee formed to probe the scandal had not been changed nor had any arrests been made thus far.
Axact provided software to local market
Sindh Board of Revenue has decided to serve Axact a second notice for hiding income earned in local software market in the guise of software export, which is by the law of the land exempted of all taxes.
On Axact’s own website, it is mentioned that a local company was provided with customised software within 48 days.
The Pakistani IT company claims to cater to the international market only.
FIA seizes computers, documents from Axact call centre
An FIA team led by Deputy Director Tahir Tanveer has seized computers and documents from an Axact call centre. Four computers, one server and a wireless phone set were seized by the FIA.
Documents pertaining to education consultancy were also seized.
FIA summons Axact CEO on Thursday
The FIA has summoned the Chief Executive Officer Axact Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh on Thursday. FIA teams will remain at the company’s office for 24 hours.
In its initial report presented to the Ministry of Interior, the forensic testing of the computers seized from Axact’s offices in Rawalpindi will be completed within 7-10 days.
Sindh Board of Revenue issues notices to Axact
The Sindh Board of Revenue has issued notices to Axact. The notices seek details of advertisements, franchises and sales tax details of the restaurant present inside the company’s building.
According to the Sindh Board of Revenue Chairman a reply from Axact has been summoned in seven days.
FIA Cyber Crime Cell to recover deleted data
According to sources the FIA’s Cyber Crime Cell will be tasked with recovering deleted Axact data.
30 terabytes of data have been recovered from the company’s headquarters in Karachi. Sources add that it may take 10-15 days to go through this data and for this purpose FIA personnel and machines will be brought from Islamabad.
Axact HR head recording statement
Deputy Director FIA Corporate Crime Circle Karmran Atta told reporters that the statement of the Axact Human Resources (HR) head was being recorded. He added that the FIA forensics team was present at the IT company’s headquarters.
“If the record is complete we will take Shoaib Shaikh’s (Axact CEO) statement today otherwise it will be tomorrow,” Mr Atta said.
He emphasised that right now this was only an inquiry and no arrests had been made.
FIA summons regional Axact executives
Regional executives of Axact have been summoned to the FIA Iqbal Town Rawalpindi Office tomorrow (Thursday).
The summoned executives will be questioned over the activities of the IT company.
According to sources they will also be asked about the universities which were being used and were mentioned in the NYT report.
Forensic analysis to be complete in 7-10 days
The forensic analysis of 40 computers and serve will be completed in 7-10 days. On Tuesday Axact’s offices in Rawalpindi were raided by the FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing and 28 employees of the IT firm were arrested.
The arrested Axact employees were shifted to offices of the FIA’s cyber crime wing where officials said they would be interrogated.
The FIA team also seized harddisks, computers, other electronic equipment and documents belonging to the IT firm.
Axact used fake images of professors on websites: US magazine
A US magazine review of several websites mentioned in the New York Times’ expose on Pakistani bogus diploma mill Axact has found that the company used stock images of models as professors on the websites for the fake educational institutions.
Slate reviewed several fake educational websites mentioned in NYT journalist Declan Walsh’s expose on IT company Axact selling fake degrees. The magazine found that the photos of university professors listed on the websites with educational credentials were in fact stock images that have also been used by other companies elsewhere on the Web.
Hard to believe Pak government was unaware of Axact scam: NYT editorial
An editorial published by the NYT today said it is difficult to believe that the Pakistani government was unaware that Axact was running the massive scam.
The editorial said that, although the scam “had existed for years and reaped many millions of dollars”, the government of Pakistan was left with little choice but to raid Axact offices after the NYT story disclosed clear connections between the Pakistani IT firm and at least 370 education websites selling fake degrees.
Fake 'virtual academic realm'
In the report published Monday, the New York Times claims Axact ran a fake education empire that involved paid actors promoting fictitious universities and even fake State Department authentication certifications bearing the signature of John Kerry.
The report, which quoted former employees and analysed more than 370 websites of fake universities, accreditation bodies and other purported institutions, sparked a wave of criticism on social media even as the company denied wrongdoing.
Axact's fake 'virtual academic realm' spans at least 370 such websites which sell fake degrees online and reaps in millions of dollars annually, claims the NYT report.
Axact declared the report "baseless, substandard, maligning, defamatory, and based on false accusations" and says it would sue the New York Times.
In a statement on its website, Axact did not directly respond to the allegations but instead accused domestic media rivals of colluding with the New York Times to plant a slanderous story in order to harm its business interests.