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Former SECP chief under surveillance

July 20, 2006

ISLAMABAD, July 19: Secret agency personnel started shadowing the former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Dr Tariq Hassan, soon after President Gen Pervez Musharraf accused him of being responsible for the March 2005 stock market crash.

“Plain clothesmen are keeping his house in F-Sector (in Islamabad) under surveillance. Senior officials are being kept informed about Dr Hassan and his family’s movements on an hourly basis,” a senior SECP official told Dawn.

In an interview to a private TV channel, President Musharraf had said that Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz was not responsible for the March 2005 crash of Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE). He had held Dr Tariq Hassan ‘responsible’ and said that he was the SECP chief, possessing ‘powers’ to avert the crash and take action against people responsible after the market’s crash.

“Landlines and cellphones of Dr Hassan, members of his family and close friends are also being monitored,” an official of the finance ministry said.

A source privy to the forensic investigations said that the first briefing the US forensic investigators had received was on how the former SECP chief had failed to avert the crisis, instead of Badla financing (carry-over transaction) or brokers and their suspected activities.

“The US team now knows more about Dr Hassan than (about) the powerful brokers nominated in the task force’s report on the market crash,” he said.

The sources said that the SECP was also trying to restrict the US investigators’ sphere of operations in the commission’s head office.

The SECP chairman, Mr Raziur Rehman, refused to share any information about the number of officials involved in the probe or the team’s composition.