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July 1, 2020

Axact fake degrees scam: Investigation into ‘racket’ of Rs40m bribe deal shelved?

Top Story

July 1, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has quietly shelved inquiry into an organised "racket" where some black sheep took a sum of over Rs40 million as bribe money getting clean chit for all the key accused in Axact fake degrees scam. FIA sources said that the agency was on the verge of closing investigation file involving a shady deal of Rs40 million linked to many black sheep associated with this racket managed to get desired result in 'Axact fake degrees case' through the then judge Pervaiz-ul-Qadir Memon who himself remained a major beneficiary in that 'dirty deal.'

"Investigation into Axact fake degrees racket has almost been shelved," a senior FIA official confirmed to Geo News seeking anonymity. The Islamabad High Court (IHC), after dismissing judge Pervaiz-ul-Qadir Memon from service, asked FIA to expose black sheep facilitated acquittal of all accused in this Axact scam in Feb 2018.

The shocking disclosure comes after former FBI agent alerted Pakistani mission in Washington about the Axact resumption of selling fake degrees/diplomas with full scope again in a letter addressed to Pakistan’s Ambassador to US Dr Asad Majeed Khan.

The revelation about black sheep in this racket linked with Axact scam case was made by a senior officer of a top agency before a committee of IHC in an in-camera briefing in 2017, exposing many abettors of judge Pervaiz-ul-Qadir Memon to get the task done in this case.

The then chief justice IHC Anwar Khan Kasi after knowing about this racket purportedly involving many influential characters who got Rs40 million illegal gratification ordered to send this case immediately to FIA for further probe. “The departmental promotion committee unanimously recommended his [judge Memon] immediate removal from service and to hold proper inquiry into the scam in order to apprehend other black sheep in the racket of Axact scandal,” disclosed an official communication, exclusively made available with Geo News.

"The admission of the officer under inquiry regarding receipt of illegal gratification in presence of two learned judges as well as the Registrar IHC is a significant piece of evidence--Registrar/secretary of this [committee] DPC who was in attendance during the proceedings explained that despite his advice the officer [judge Memon] proceeded with the trial and decided the case -- since the officer is found guilty in accepting gratification, the Registrar is directed to lodge a complaint against the said officer with FIA for further probe and investigation into the matter,” wrote the then chief justice Kasi in his order.

Dismissed judge Pervaiz-ul-Qadir Memon said, "I was never given opportunity of to be heard. Neither I was heard by any judge of IHC nor anyone asked me any question." Speaking to this correspondent, he further revealed, "No one approached me from IHC or FIA to take my point of view. IHC in response to my request told me in writing that it had not found any evidence against him." "Finding no evidence, Justice Shaukat acting beyond his authority and by misusing his position threatened and harassed me. No so-called admission or confession on my behalf whatsoever in writing or verbal is made nor any such material is on record," he further said. My appeal against removal order is pending for last two years without a single hearing till today before Islamabad Judicial Service Tribunal Islamabad, he added. Mr Memon had acquitted all the key accused including Shoaib Sheikh while IHC overturned acquittal's verdict.

Incriminating evidences collected by this senior officer of a top agency and subsequently presented before the committee further revealed that “judge Memon personally heard and inquired about his established telephonic conversation with Mr. **** and further explanation was sought to clarify the nature of his relationship, if any, with him.*** ---Mr. Memon failed to come up with any explanation with regard to his any previous connection with Mr. **** but also admitted his conversations. When he [judge Memon] was confronted with the question of receiving illegal gratification to the tune of Rs40 million he admitted receiving of illegal gratification of Rs5 million,” confidential communication further revealed.

Official communications, Geo News reviewed, exchanged between sacked judge Memon and other departments which further revealed that "the learned member Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani has also written a separate note with recommendations of immediate removal of the officer and to hold inquiry." This note was also part of the findings of the committee headed by the then Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui.

Justice (dismissed) Shaukat Aziz Saddiqui who was heading the committee where a disclosure was made by a senior officer of an agency about this illegal gratification, dirty deal and a racket in-front of judge Memon did not comment on it. "After my removal as judge, I don’t find it appropriate to discuss any matter related to my official work--whatever I knew it was till Oct 2018," he told this correspondent.

FIA officials engaged in this investigation further disclosed that around half a dozen FIA's special prosecutors and investigation officers once associated with this case have refused to plead this case further after they received threats from certain quarters, added FIA officials. Former FIA special prosecutor Zahid Jamil said, "I had to disassociate himself from the case for various reasons, which he did not specify. Later other prosecutors also left and then you can see the fate of all the Axact cases. As many as 61 witnesses were dropped from the case.” In an interview with a private television, Jamil further counted multiple reasons, lack of interest from all concerned quarters was major stumbling block into progress of this case.

The administration of FIA and IHC neither denied nor confirmed this disclosure when this correspondent sought their official view point. IHC administration was approached for the comment repeatedly but their responses were still awaited. Geo News's questionnaire sent to IHC administration asked, 'did IHC hear from FIA on inquiry against judge Memon's corruption/racket?' Other questions were: "What was the FIA's latest findings on this corruption case? Who were part of this racket purportedly approaching lawyers, judges, who were allegedly beneficiaries of Rs40 million illegal gratification? What was the latest update into ongoing inquiry into Axact's scam?, What was role of senior official of an agency in exposing this racket?, Did FIA summon sacked judge Memon?, Did IHC hand over required record to FIA investigation team, etc?"