FIA team wraps up SECP probe

July 02, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) team probing alleged record tampering by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) finished its work on Friday after spending over two hours with the IT department of the corporate sector regulator.

The four-member FIA team, headed by Anti-Corruption Wing Director Maqsoodul Hassan, started its investigations after working hours on Friday, June 23, and ended its work on the SECP premises late on Friday, June 30.

After quizzing several SECP executives and holding meetings with the commission’s senior management, the FIA team spent their final hours in the IT department.

There were rumours that certain hardware, including the laptop issued to SECP Chairman Zafar Hijazi, had also been confiscated. However, this impression was denied by a senior SECP official.

A senior SECP executive told Dawn that to ensure the security of data on the whole network, the SECP had several backup servers.

“The software operates from abroad and the data is protected at five levels,” the official said. “The FIA personnel took email records of several executives who were investigated earlier, while the option to delete previous records has been blocked in the emails of many officers.”

The FIA team was established on the directives of the apex court when the JIT alleged that the SECP was involved in record-tampering.

Investigators sift through IT records; FIA official says new evidence of tampering with Hudabiya documents being examined

Meanwhile, sources in the FIA said that several proofs of tampering had been collected from the SECP, some of which had even been acknowledged by mid-level and senior officers of the commission.

“They have all acknowledged that the closing note in the case of the Chaudhry Sugar Mills was penned in 2016 in the office of SECP Chairman Zafar Hijazi retroactively. This may not be a serious crime, but it also proves harassment of employees because they were made to sign it under duress,” the official added.

The closing note was made by Maheen Fatima, the officer assigned to the money laundering case involving the Chaudhry Sugar Mills, while it was signed by Ali Azeem, the head of the enforcement department in 2013.

However, there was no mention of Tahir Mahmood, who was acting SECP chairman in 2013 and is the current commissioner of the Company Law Division, an FIA source said.

“This is contrary to the written reply given by the SECP to the Supreme Court,” the FIA official confided.

The SECP reply stated that SECP chairman Hijazi received a briefing by the officer concerned on the issue, Ms Fatima, in the presence of Commissioner Tahir Mahmood and was informed that the matter had already been concluded and the request letter sent to UK authorities for a probe in the case was withdrawn in 2013.

The SECP response to the Supreme Court further stated that the current chairman was appointed long after the matter was closed by the respective officers.

Meanwhile, sources in the investigation agency confided that the team had unearthed new evidence of record tampering in the documentation of Hudabiya Sugar Mills and other entities owned by the Sharif family.

“But this evidence, which is related to change in the name of directors without following the due procedure, is being scrutinised,” the official said, adding: “These misdeeds are being exposed with the help of moles inside the commission.”

The FIA is likely to finalise and submit its report to the JIT tomorrow (Monday).

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2017