KARACHI/ISLAMABAD - Acting on the directives of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officers on Tuesday raided the Axact offices, quizzing the employees of the firm and seizing the record to probe the allegations leveled by a foreign newspaper in connection with a scam of awarding fake degrees and minting money.

Sources privy to the matter revealed that team of the FIA’s cyber crime and corporate crime unit raided the Karachi headquarters of the firm located in Defence.

The experts of cyber crime and the corporate circles questioned the employees, sources said and added that the team had also taken away record in the form of hard and soft copies to investigate the charges against the company.

The staffers of the company were restricted by the investigators for any sort of movement during the interrogations while no one was taken into custody or detained by the officials. Company sources said investigators questioned a few staffers and seized equipment and record.

Talking to newsmen, an FIA official revealed that they had asked Axact, which also owns a media group known as BOL, to provide its IP addresses and web/internet record.

Separately, a team of FIA Islamabad raided Axact’s regional office located at Main GT Road near Rawat area. FIA took into custody the computer devices including CPUs under the use of company, mobile phones used by company employees, other electronic equipment and files. Later, the office of the company was sealed.

A senior officer of FIA said 72 employees of the company were taken into custody but later 39 employees, majority of them lower staff including drivers and security guards were released. However, more than 30 employees were shifted to FIA office in Iqbal Town for interrogation.

FIA started the probe after Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan took notice of the story and immediately ordered an inquiry. A spokesman of the Ministry of Interior said the minister had sought a complete report from FIA after conducting a thorough investigation.

Soon after the direction, the top hierarchy at the FIA headquarters immediately formed a seven-member inquiry committee headed by FIA Sindh Director Shahid Hayat and including some deputy directors of its cyber crime wings from Islamabad and Karachi.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training has asked the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan to review the situation arising out of Axact scam and see what the commission could do to unveil the facts.

HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said the commission was vigilant and reviewing the situation.

The chairman said the regional office of HEC had been asked to collect information from the head office of Axact in Karachi.

Meanwhile, the Federal Board of Revenue on Tuesday decided to audit the assets maintained by Axact and the details regarding its tax payments.

“The FBR is auditing assets of the company and further investigations will be carried out in this regard,” said a senior officer of the FBR while talking to The Nation. He further said that in order to obtain more records and documents, the FBR intelligence has started working in coordination with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

Sources said that the FBR is also investigating the bank accounts which were allegedly kept secret by the company. The company made transactions worth of millions of rupees internationally and nationally through its secret accounts, sources claimed.

The FBR would investigate the source of income, its expenditures and various banking transactions made during the last a few years.

According to reports, Axact’s chief executive and founder, Shoaib Ahmad Sheikh paid only Rs26 income tax in 2014 and Rs22 in 2013.

In another development, the Sindh High Court has directed the government to conduct inquiry against Axect strictly as per law. The directions came in response to a petition filed by an employee of the company complaining about the authorities which conducted the raid.