FIA registers case against SECP chief over ‘record tampering’

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GHULAM ABBAS/Farid Sabri

 

Though a case has been registered against Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Chairman Zafar Hijazi on the directives of Supreme Court of Pakistan for tampering official records, yet the chairman is unwilling to resign from the post.

A SECP spokesperson, referring to message of the chairman said that Zafar Hijazi would face the case at relevant forum. “More information will come out after further investigation. Truth will come to light during investigation. I firmly believe that truth will prevail. I will share details with media at an appropriate time,” the chairman said in the message soon after the Supreme Court ordered to register a case against him.

On the other hand sources claim that the chairman would not resign until he has been given green signal by the government. As he has only four months to complete his term as the chairman, there should be no hesitation for him to step down after the inquiry report of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and subsequent order of the superior court for registering case against him.

A source at SECP claims that the chairman may solely not be involved in the record tempering issue since there is indirect interference of Ministry of Finance. Finance secretary being chairman of Securities and Exchange Policy Board, also looks into affairs of the SECP.

According to him, apart from action against those involved in the illegal practices, government and higher authorities should also computerize the record of SECP encrypting into microfilms to avoid possibilities of forgeries in documents as practiced in developed countries. Besides, there must be an integrated system of SECP, National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to minimize the chances of tempering record.

The special bench of the Supreme Court overseeing the implementation of the Panama case verdict ordered on Monday the registration of FIR against SECP chairman for tampering official records. The special bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, gave the order for registration of FIR after the attorney general informed the court of the result of the FIA’s inquiry.

Commenting on the issue, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed that the court will also have to see on whose orders the SECP chief was acting on.

The directives were issued after the chairman was found guilty of tampering with the record of Chaudhry Sugar Mills (Pvt) Limited, owned by ruling Sharif family.

During hearing in SC, attorney general argued before the three-member bench that according to FIA’s report, SECP chairman illegally ordered his subordinates to tamper with the record.

The Judges of apex court remarked that Zafar Hijazi intentionally obstructed justice and ordered registration of case as recommended by the federal investigation agency on immediate basis.

Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan expressed that SECP chairman initially denied the allegations regarding record tampering and then said he was not aware of the tampering.

The FIA team is also learnt to have recommended that two senior SECP officials Ali Azeem and Maheen Fatima who had complied with the illegal orders have been found negligent; therefore, departmental proceedings be initiated against these ‘irresponsible officers’.

According to sources acting on the order of the Supreme Court, FIA on Monday has registered a case against Zafar Hijazi for misconduct. A two-member FIA’s team comprising Tanvir and Farooq Latif has been set up to arrest Hijazi.