SECP issues notices to eight officers over data leak

Published September 23, 2020
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Infor­mation retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa. — Reuters/File
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Infor­mation retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa. — Reuters/File

• Issue revolves around leak of information about family members of PM’s aide
• Commission chairman briefs Imran on progress in the case

ISLAMABAD: The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) on Tuesday issued show-cause notices to its eight officers and warning letters to two employees over the issue of leakage of data of family members of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information retired Gen Asim Bajwa.

The show-cause notices were to be issued on Monday as per recommendations of the SECP’s commission at a meeting held on Sept 19, but a last-minute decision by the commission’s human resource (HR) department to get the notices vetted by the law department led to the delay by another day.

The issue was raised by Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda at a meeting of the federal cabinet held here on Tuesday. The minister expressed fears that the SECP proceedings on the matter relating to theft of sensitive information from the commission might be shelved.

According to government sources, Mr Vawda said the case had exposed lacunas, loopholes and weaknesses of custodians of official data and feared that the inquiry into the matter too might be buried under the files like many other inquiries into important matters of national interest.

However, Prime Minister Imran Khan assured the cabinet that the case was moving ahead as per the legal requirements and that the government did not believe in interfering or pressurising regulatory bodies in any matter.

The sources said that after the cabinet meeting the SECP chairman was called by the prime minister, who heads the establishment division, to inquire about the progress in the data leak case.

Regulatory bodies, including the SECP, are under the establishment division.

SECP chairman Amir Khan informed the prime minister that the show-cause notices had been issued on the basis of a report by a fact-finding committee headed by SECP commissioner Sadia Khan. He said the complete report would be submitted officially after the hearing by the SECP’s commission of the case against the persons who had been issued show-cause notices.

The SECP’s HR department issued show-cause notices to eight employees, including additional director of market surveillance department Arslan Zafar.

According to the notice, Arslan Zafar is reported to have made unauthorised access to personal information of SAPM Asim Bajwa and his family members, including details of their CNICs, in the last week of July. He is accused of violating the SECP HR manual. He has been asked to provide the reasons for his act and satisfy the commission over the allegations levelled against him.

The respondents have been asked to submit written replies by Sept 29 to the HR department after that hearing will be held at the commission.

The others, who have been issued show-cause notices, are: Zahid Hussain, joint director (JD) of IT department; Hussain Sarosh, deputy director IT; Muhammad Sohail, assistant joint director IT; Hammad Ahmed, deputy director IT; Sadiq Shah, assistant joint director (AJD), Companies Registration Office (CRO); Abil Ali Abid, AJD, CRO; and Syed Jamal Zaidi, AJD, CRO.

They are accused of committing minor violations as per the SECP HR manual, which relates mainly to carelessness, negligence and lack of attention as they have been asked to respond to ignoring the “red flags” witnessed in the system in the second half of July.

Warning letters have been issued to Amir Waheed, director IT department, and Zulfiqar Shams, management executive CRO, asking them to be careful about any suspicious movement in future.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2020

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