Money laundering case: FIA files appeal against Axact chairman’s acquittal


KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Monday filed an appeal against the acquittal of Axact Chairman Shoaib Shaikh and other accused in a money laundering case.

The appeal was filed at the Sindh High Court (SHC) by FIA officials.

A two-member bench of the SHC issued a notice to the Axact chairman, its chief executive officer, and FIA to appear before the court on February 15. A record of the case proceedings was also summoned by the SHC.

The plaintiffs in their petition have reiterated that there was strong evidence of money laundering against the accused, but it was not taken into account by the district court.

Earlier on February 9, the SC had directed the high courts in Sindh and Islamabad to promptly decide the pending cases regarding the Axact fake degree scandal, as it rescinded its order to put the names of all the accused on the Exit Control List (ECL).

The court ordered Shaikh, who is also the owner of Bol Network, to submit a written reply in the case and hand over his passport to the Sindh High Court. The bench took back its order to place names of the accused on ECL on the request of senior journalists, including Sami Ibrahim and Javed Soomro, and directed Shaikh to submit a written guarantee that he would not leave the country.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar conducted a hearing of the suo motu notice of the Axact scam. He maintained that Pakistan’s reputation is at stake but the investigation in the case is quite weak and frail.

FIA Director General Basheer Memon told the court that the websites of at least 330 universities are being operated by Axact but they have no campuses.

He said that Axact is not affiliated with the said universities while a person can receive any degree from the website on the basis of experience in an hour and at the cost of Rs500,000.

“I possess the experience in law. Can I receive a PhD degree?” the CJP inquired. “Yes, you can receive the degree of law and English on the basis of experience,” replied Memon. He also told the judge that Axact has its own platform which conducts accreditation.

The CJP remarked that universities are established under a law while the Axact degree process was ongoing from 2006-2015.

“If the information is correct then a fraud was committed by the people. FIA initiated the investigation when the news came on media. What can the FIA do to prove the crime?” he asked.

Memon responded that the accused were acquitted by the IHC at which the CJP asked about the veracity of rumours about the judge in the case being paid for granting bails to the accused.

“Did the FIA presented evidence in the IHC?” questioned CJP.

Memon replied that the appeal is still pending following which the registrar IHC told that the February 22 has been set for hearing of the petition.

Furthermore, the CJP also directed the SHC to constitute a bench to hear the case decide over it within a month.