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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Finance has said that the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has been hiding facts and documents relating to alleged corruption in the Multan Metro bus project even from the Sharif family — one of the accused in the case.

A letter forwarded by the Senate committee’s secretariat to the SECP on Wednesday sought reasons for keeping the documents secret. It highlighted the statement of a witness, Faisal Subhan, director of Capital Construction and Engineering Ltd, given to the Chinese Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). Mr Subhan claimed that his company was actually owned and controlled by the Sharif family that also had control over Habib Rafiq Limited — the main contractor of the Multan Metro project.

“To our surprise the SECP opted to remain silent on such a serious allegation; the commission neither referred it to any investigation agency nor responded to the CSRC’s documents relating to the corruption,” the committee members regretted.

Incidentally, SECP acting chairman Zafar Abdullah had on Sept 13 told the Senate committee that the original files and documents relating to alleged money laundering forwarded by the Chinese regulator had never been shared with the commission; only written briefs were presented during the commission’s meetings.

The committee members noted that suspended SECP chairman Zafar Hijazi and commissioner (international relations) Akif Saeed had the custody of the original files.

The matter was referred to the Federal Investigation Agency only after Zafar Hijazi was suspended from his post on the orders of the Supreme Court.

The Senate committee also referred to SECP’s response to the CSRC in December last year that information and details required by the Chinese regulator was outside the regulatory ambit of the SECP, but the commission did not refer it to the relevant agency.

“Did the SECP examine the huge banking record it obtained from the State Bank of Pakistan to check the relevant remittances if any made by Habib Rafiq Ltd of Matracon (construction company)?” the Senate body’s letter asked.

It also asked why the documents and evidence shared by the CSRC about banking information had been kept secret for a long period. “What efforts were made by the SECP to properly assist the CSRC in this money laundering crime pointing towards the Sharif family? What efforts were made to probe the matter?”

The CSRC documents also mentioned China Railway Limited — one of the contractors of the Multan Metro bus project.

The SECP has been directed to submit its reply to the Senate body by Dec 15.

The case relates to investigation initiated by the CSRC last year against Chinese firm Jiangsu Yabaite Technology Co Ltd after witnessing an unusual increase in its assets. The company, however, told the Chinese regulator that it had received the amount after executing work on the Multan Metro bus project.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2017