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SHC orders Axact CEO to submit medical certificate upon being absent from court hearing

SHC orders Axact CEO to submit medical certificate upon being absent from court hearing

A Sindh High Court (SHC) bench on Thursday ordered Axact CEO Shoaib Shaikh's lawyer to submit a medical certificate in the court after his client failed to appear before the bench again.

The two-member SHC bench, led by Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto, had ordered the Axact chief to appear in court for the hearing of an appeal filed by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) urging the court not to acquit Shaikh from money laundering charges against him.

However, despite summons from the court, Shaikh failed to appear in court for today's hearing. When Justice Phulpoto inquired why he was absent, the lawyer claimed Shaikh was unwell. Upon this, the bench ordered that a medical certificate be submitted in court.

The FIA had appealed in the SHC against a trial court ruling that acquitted Shaikh in 2016, arguing that the verdict had been passed despite strong evidence that proved the Axact chief's involvement in money laundering.

The Axact CEO was accused of having illegally transferred Rs170.17 million to a Dubai-based firm, Chanda Exchange Company, in April 2014.

Two suspects from Chanda Exchange Company were also produced in court today.

The court ordered Shaikh to appear in court for the next hearing, set for February 21.

The Axact scandal surfaced in May 2015, when The New York Times published a report that claimed the company 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 were arrested and a probe was launched on the basis of the allegations leveled by NYT.

In January, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice of the Axact fake degree scandal after international news reports said over 3,000 UK citizens had purchased fake degrees from Axact in 2013 and 2014.

The news came just months after an in-depth investigation by Canada's national broadcaster uncovered that hundreds of people working in diverse fields across Canada possess bogus degrees issued by Axact.

In its last hearing, the court had ordered the Sindh and Islamabad high courts to promptly decide on the pending cases regarding Axact.

The chief justice had directed the SHC to constitute a bench to hear the case within a week and give the verdict within two weeks.

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