Axact CEO gets bail in fake degrees case
KARACHI: Axact Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Shoaib Shaikh and 13 co-accused in the fake degrees case were granted bail by the Sindh High Court on Monday.
Justice Iqbal Kalhoro granted them bail against surety bonds of Rs500,000 each after hearing the arguments from defence and prosecution lawyers.
The scandal surfaced in May last year when The New York Times published a report which claimed that Axact sold fake diplomas and degrees online through hundreds of fictitious schools, making “tens of millions of dollars annually”.
Subsequently, the offices of Axact were sealed, its CEO and key officials arrested and an investigation was launched on the basis of the allegations levelled by the paper.
On May 27 last year, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had detained scores of Axact employees, including executive body members and CEO, during raids at the company’s offices in Rawalpindi and Karachi. They were remanded in judicial custody in June.
Advocate Shaukat Hayat, the counsel for Axact, argued during the hearing that the FIA and the prosecution had been employing delaying tactics, pointing out that the accused were not formally arraigned in the case despite a lapse of 15 months.
He contended that there had been no headway in the case which legitimised his stance that the accused were entitled to bail, especially when they had no criminal record or allegations of involvement in terrorism.
The prosecution lawyers, however, opposed the bail application, arguing that “concrete” evidence was found against the accused during the investigation.
They said Abdul Rauf, the owner of a printing press hired by the Axact management to publish fake degrees, had been traced and included in the witnesses list.