ISLAMABAD - The Federal Investigation Agency yesterday said Higher Education Commission or any other relevant institution had not verified more than 300 universities that surfaced in the Axact scandal.

The FIA also said it had found solid evidence in the Axact scandal which showed that innocent people were cheated and looted by granting them fake degrees of foreign education institutions.

The information was shared at a high-level meeting chaired by interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

Senior officers of FIA briefed the meeting about its ongoing drive against human smugglers, its future strategy and progress on investigations into mega corruption cases, including Axact scandal, Aqeel Karim Dhedhi (AKD) case and Pakistan currency exchange case.

Several months back, a scandal surfaced in the media that Axact, a Pakistani software company that also owned a media group with the name of BOL, was involved in the business of awarding fake educational degrees to locals and foreigners.

During the briefing, the FIA officials said they had written to American officials about the names of those US educational institutions on behalf of which Axact had been issuing degrees. “The US officials have informed us about 15 such institutions up till now,” a senior officer of FIA said, adding all these 15 degree-awarding institutions were found fake.

The FIA informed the chair that data of more than 100 terabytes in the computers of Axact offices was got during the investigations and record secured in the presence of a magistrate. It was also stated that 75 percent data available on cloud computing had been recovered.

The officials revealed the Axact scandal had affected thousands of Pakistan nationals and foreigners from Saudi Arabia, Britain and other countries.

The minister directed the FIA to speed up campaign against human traffickers and present a progress report in this regard in a month.

The meeting was told that the FIA had arrested 1,245 proclaimed offenders wanted in different cases. In 2014, the number of these arrests was 911. In 2014-2015, the FIA recovered a total of Rs 14.6 billion, in 2013, Rs 1.6 billion, in 2012, Rs 210 million and in 2011, Rs 200 million.

Talking about the future strategy of the FIA on the arrest of proclaimed offenders, the minister said that central data bank of such accused should be prepared and be made available in all the offices of the FIA across the country.

This record should also be shared by intelligence agencies, he said, adding passports of proclaimed offenders should be cancelled and their identity cards blocked.

The FIA officials said the names of all proclaimed offenders had been put on exit control list and special teams formed with specific target to arrest these outlaws.

The meeting also discussed, in detail, various steps to strengthen the existing laws to stop human trafficking. The minister underlined the need to make these laws more effective to prevent the heinous business of human smuggling and bring to justice those involved in it.