ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency on Friday arrested Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Chairman Zafarul Haq Hijazi following the dismissal of his pre-arrest bail plea.

The FIA’s special court had after a preliminary hearing on July 17 granted the pre-arrest interim bail to the SECP chairman till July 21 in a case related to tampering with the record of a sugar mill owned by the Sharif family.

Special Judge Central Tahir Mehmood, however, rejected the bail plea as the FIA opposed it and sought custody of Mr Hijazi.

Zafar Hijazi shifted to Pims due to ailment; medical board formed

On the directive of the Supreme Court, the FIA had on July 10 lodged an FIR against Mr Hijazi for allegedly tampering with the record of Chaudhry Sugar Mills (Pvt) Limited.

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

FIA officials took Mr Hijazi to their headquarters for interrogation, but due to ailment he was shifted to a hospital.

In the petition filed in the court through his counsel, Mr Hijazi stated that he was 64 years old, had a kidney transplant in 2001, developed diabetes mellitus type-2 and needed specialised medicine and his detention in jail environment would be injurious and danger to his life.

According to the plea, the previous government of the Pakistan Peoples Party had in 2011 tasked the SECP with investigation into the alleged money laundering by Chaudhry Sugar Mills.

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 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 were found satisfactory.

It said 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 said 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 maintained 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 was being rectified in 2016. But such a note, it added, would have adversely affected the three officers for their inefficiency and negligence.

After the dismissal of the bail plea, Zafar Hijazi was shifted to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) for medical check-up.

The Pims management constituted a five-member medical board headed by Surgeon Dr Sajid Qazi and comprising cardiologist Dr Naeem Malik, nephrologist Dr Muhammad Sohail, general physician Prof Dr Fareeda and Dr Faisal Kakar from the administration wing.

“Mr Hijazi is a patient of renal transplant, diabetic with cardiac issues and having high blood pressure. It may take another two hours to get the opinion of the board members about the patient,” Pims vice chancellor Dr Javed Akram said while talking to Dawn at 8.30pm. “Considering the issues with the patient, most likely he will be kept under observation for overnight and will be re-evaluated in the morning.”

In reply to a question, Dr Akram said that since the medical board comprised senior doctors, it would give a neutral and independent opinion about the patient. “The patient [Mr Hijazi] will be handed over to the FIA if found medically fit.”

Meanwhile, journalists covering the event of arrival of Mr Hijazi in Pims were manhandled by law enforcement personnel deployed there.

Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2017