The federal government on Monday appointed Zafar Abdullah as acting chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) while placing the incumbent, Zafar Hajazi, under suspension.

The Finance Department, through two separate notifications, suspended Hijazi, who has been remanded in the custody of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and appointed SECP's "senior-most commissioner" Abdullah as the acting head of the commission.

Hijazi had been taken into custody after his bail plea in connection with a case filed against him on charges of tampering official records was turned down. The case was filed on the orders of the apex court.

The joint investigation team (JIT) tasked with probing the allegations raised against the ruling Sharif family in the Panama Papers had accused Hijazi of tempering the record of Chaudhary Sugar Mills, which is owned by the first family.

Subsequently, an FIA team had submitted a report to the SC on July 8 finding the chairman guilty of altering the record in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.

He was suspended under the SECP Act, 1997, which bestows powers to the federal government to suspend a chairman of the commission if he became unable to discharge his duties.

Zafar Abdullah had so far been overseeing the functions of the Specialised Companies Division, Information System and Technology Department of the SECP. Holding a bachelor's degree in commerce from the University of Karachi, he is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan. He completed his articleship with KPMG Pakistan and received training in the areas of assurance and audit, financial advisory and corporate advisory.

Earlier, he had served the SECP as executive director in the Securities Market Division, as chief of operations in the Karachi Stock Exchange, as head of operations in the Central Depository Company, as chief compliance officer at the Dewan Mushtaq Group and as chief executive officer at Crosby Securities Pakistan Limited.

His last assignment was as company secretary and head of the legal division at Faysal Bank Limited. He joined the SECP as a commissioner on August 17, 2012.

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