Pakistan

FIA arrests SECP chairman after court denies bail extension

Zafar Hijazi

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Friday arrested Chairman Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Zafar Hijazi after Special Judge Central Tahir Mehmood refused his plea for bail extension in a case pertaining to record tampering of Sharif family’s companies.

He was arrested outside a special court here after the court declined to extend his bail period.

Hijazi appeared before Islamabad special court to extend his pre-arrest bail.

Hijazi’s counsel, while presenting arguments, claimed his client has been declared main accused in Chaudhry Sugar Mills record-tampering unjustly.

He contended that his client was being victimized while pleading before the court that his client should be granted bail so that he could contribute in the ongoing Panamagate investigation.

However, the judge rejected Hijazi’s plea and he was arrested from court’s room.

Earlier this week, the special judge had approved interim bail for Hijazi till July 21 (today) and had directed him to furnish two surety bonds of Rs250,000.

The SECP chairman approached the court to seek bail as transitory bail granted to him by the Islamabad High Court was due to expire on Monday.

Hijazi was booked in a case following the Supreme Court’s order in the Panama Papers implementation case for allegedly tampering with financial records of the Sharif’s companies.

A four-member FIA team, constituted by the apex court to look into the JIT’s allegations, had proved the record tampering claims.

It found chairman Hijazi guilty of record tampering and recommended criminal proceedings against him and two of his subordinates – Ali Azeem and Maheen Fatima – under Section  466, 472, PPC read with 5(2) Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) 1947.

SECP Director Maheen Fatima had accused the SECP chairman of exerting intense pressure on her to blame the Panamagate JIT of misbehaving with her during an interrogation session.

In her statement to the probing team, she asserted that the money laundering investigation against Chaudhry Sugar Mills was closed on the chairman’s directives.

The director has further accused the chairman of threatening her with dire consequences including transfer to Gilgit-Baltistan on defiance of his orders.

The Panamagate JIT had previously complained to the top court that SECP had allegedly tampered with the record, apparently to favour the Sharif family who owns Chaudhry Sugar Mills.

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