FOR the last few years, hundreds of families, including my own, have been running from pillar to post in pursuit of justice without any success. The relevant state institutions have failed to apprehend and bring to justice ‘M.R. Securities (SMC-Pvt) Limited’ owned by fugitive stock broker Mazhar Rafiq, the son-in-law of late Seth Abid – a real estate tycoon of Lahore – who disappeared discreetly in late January 2017 with our life-long savings and hard-earned money. The episode was reported by Dawn as ‘Broker flees with investors’ assets; SECP seizes record (Feb 8, 2017).

The affectees, numbering over 600 include senior citizens, widows and terminal patients, since then have been doing all they can, but there has been no success.

During this period, the affectees were called by the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to record their claims with supporting documents.

Sometime later, the affectees were informed by the PSX that the total verified claims amounted to Rs1.2 billion and the process of recovery and refund would start soon. Regrettably, very little progress has been made so far and the affectees continue to suffer in agony about the fate of their investments.

As regulators and guarantors, both the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and the PSX failed in their duty to safeguard the interests of the investing public.

So far, a miniscule compensation of about two per cent of the approved claim amount has been made by the PSX to the affectees out of its investor protection funds. It advised the affectees to continue pursuing other state agencies, like NAB etc., in getting the fugitive broker apprehended for the recovery of the balance amount of their approved claims.

The affectees visited the NAB Lahore office for updates, but did not have much luck there.

According to director-general of NAB, an FIR had been lodged against the broker with the local police. A case had been registered against him and a request for apprehending him from the United Kingdom, where he has been hiding since his disappearance, had been referred to the interior ministry to initiate the necessary procedure for his extradition.

More than two years have passed since this last update. No progress has been made so far while the affectees continue to suffer in agony.

As one of the affectees and on behalf of all the affectees, I appeal to the highest authorities in the land to come to our help by getting this fugitive extradited to face justice. Such a step will also send the right signal to the investors – both local and overseas – that the government is fully committed to protecting their interests. And imagine the boost it will give to the stock market that is already witnessing a historic upsurge.

Naveed Athar Sheikh
Lahore

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2021

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