ISLAMABAD: A special judge of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Monday granted pre-arrest interim bail to Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Chairman Zafar Hijazi and issued notices to the FIA in the matter of record tampering of a sugar mill owned by the Sharif family.

Special Judge Central Tahir Mehmood allowed interim bail to the SECP head until July 21, against the submission of surety bonds worth Rs0.5 million.

The court will hear FIA’s stance on Mr Hijazi’s plea at the next hearing.

On the Supreme Court’s directions, FIA had lodged an FIR against Mr Hijazi on July 10 for allegedly tampering with the records of Chaudhry Sugar Mills.

Zafar Hijazi vows to continue in office despite FIR against him

The FIR was registered under sections 466 (forgery) and 471 (using forged documents as genuine) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), read with section 5 (2) 47 of the Prevention of Corruption Act by the FIA’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) in Islamabad.

Responding to media queries after the court proceedings, Mr Hijazi said he would not quit his post.

“I can continue with my job despite the registration of the FIR,” he said.

Through his counsel, Mr Hijazi maintained in his petition that he is an honest man and has an unblemished track record.

According to the petition, the previous PPP government had in 2011 tasked the SECP to probe into the affairs of Chaudhry Sugar Mills regarding money laundering.

The UK’s Central Authority and Financial Services Authority were approached for the requisite information, Mr Hijazi’s counsel said, adding that a clarification letter was issued to the company in 2011 and proceedings under sections 261 and 263 of the Companies Ordinance were also initiated.

The petition said that two files were maintained- a money laundering file and a routine examination file- and the company provided detailed information and documents through its replies in 2012 and 2013 which was found satisfactory.

The petition says the FIA did not bother to look into the money-laundering file and took advantage of a discrepancy, attributed to the petitioner with mala fide intention, as the date mentioned in the routine examination file was erroneous and had been wrongly attributed to the petitioner.

The petition says that all three SECP officers who had deposed against him – Abid Hussein, Ali Azeem and Maheen Fatima – agreed that the issue was closed in 2013, but they had now turned against Mr Hijazi.

It maintains that the record could have been rectified with a simple note to the effect that although the main file was closed in 2013, due to the negligence of the dealing staff the file could not be closed in time and in proper manner and that the omission is being rectified in 2016.

But such a note, it added, would have adversely affected the three officers for their inefficiency and negligence.

The petition says Mr Hijazi is an old man- 64 years old- and has had a kidney transplant in 2011, developed diabetes mellitus type-2 and needs specialised medicine. It says detaining him in a jail environment will be injurious and a danger to his life. The petition asked the court to grant Mr Hijazi pre-arrest bail till the conclusion of the trial.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2017

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