A special court of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) indicted former Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) chairman Zafar Hijazi for tampering with records related to the Sharif family's Chaudhry Sugar Mills on Friday.
Hijazi was taken into FIA custody earlier this year after a report released by the Panama Papers case joint investigation team (JIT), probing then prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family's wealth, alleged that the former SECP chairman had altered records related to Chaudhry Sugar Mills.
A case was registered against Hijazi on the orders of the Supreme Court after the three-member Panama Papers case implementation bench acted on the JIT report.
The charge-sheet read out against Hijazi today said he had pressured his subordinates to change dates on documents related to the sugar mills.
Hijazi pleaded not guilty to the charges before the special court judge, Irum Niazi.
His lawyer was of the view that the statement taken from an SECP officer, Maheen Fatima, was not solid enough to run a trial on, but the prosecutor opposed this view. Subsequently, Hijazi was indicted.
The next hearing of the case will be on Nov 10, and witnesses will be notified for the trial.
'Locked in room for giving statement to JIT'
SECP officials in July told a Senate Standing Committee on Finance that Hijazi had harassed and pressured them into closing the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.
Director and Head of Department (HOD) Internal Audit and Compliance Department at the SECP Maheen Fatima ─ who was also an officer dealing with the money-laundering charges against Chaudhry Sugar Mills ─ had alleged that she was locked in a room for talking to the Panama JIT.
"On June 14, I was locked in a room for talking to the JIT members and telling them the factual position regarding closing of the mill’s files," she said.
Maheen Fatima told the committee that Hijazi had forced her to stay in a room for three hours for giving the statement to the JIT.
"He forced me to give an entirely different statement to the JIT and change my previous statement," she said, adding that it was due to the interference of her colleagues that she was allowed to leave the room.
The SECP officials said Hijazi had called them in his office and directed them to close the file of investigation into the mill in June 2016, but in the back date of 2013.
Ali Azeem, Executive Director and HOD Insurance Division, said. "After I entered the chairman's office, Mr Hijazi was annoyed and disrespectfully quizzed me for writing a letter to the UK authorities over the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case. He then directed me to close the file in back date."
Abid Hussain, Executive Director and HOD Company Law Division, had said the possible reason for closing the file in back date might be because of the Panama Papers leaks.