ISLAMABAD: An Islamabad court remanded three suspects in custody of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Thursday in connection with the income tax data leak of former army chief retired Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The federal government had ordered an investigation on Nov 21 into the leak of legally protected tax information of Gen Bajwa’s family.

When the FIA produced the three suspects — Shahzad Niaz, Arshad Ali Qureshi and Mohammad Adeel Ashraf — before Judicial Magistrate Omer Shabbir, the prosecution stated that during the course of investigation, it was learnt that Qureshi had discarded his mobile phone on Nov 23, days after the leak of tax data of government functionaries on FactFocus, a website.

Shahzad Niaz and Ashraf also deleted tax data, which “they had accessed illegally”.

Their mobile phones were sent for forensic analysis to enable the investigators to extract data obtained by the suspects, according to the prosecution.

During further investigation, it was ‘established’ that Niaz had been “illegally facilitating Qureshi” since 2018 by providing him taxpayers’ records on payment of cash.

According to the FIA, the amount to Qureshi was being sent by Sajid Aziz.

The FIA requested the court to grant physical remand of the suspects for five days so that details about Sajid Aziz could be collected and records from bank and Easypaisa retrieved.

The judge noted that since investigation was already under way, declining the request for physical remand would amount to halting the process.

Custody of the three suspects was given to the FIA till Dec 24.

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2022

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