ISLAMABAD: Mahin Fatima – a witness against the former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan in record tampering case, claimed on Thursday that Zafar Hijazi had her illegally detained in a room to secure a false statement and that she testified before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) under duress.
“Zafar Hijazi forced me to give a false statement and the statement I gave before the JIT was under duress,” said Miss Fatima while testifying before the Senate’s Standing Committee on Finance.
Fatima maintained that Hijazi had her detained in the room for three hours and only let her go after he got the desired statement.
The plan was that the Commissioner Company Law Division would place her false statement before the SECP Commission that would warn Fatima for giving a statement in the JIT, narrated the SECP director who is now a key witness in the record tampering case.
Miss Fatima said that the Commissioner, Law Division, Tahir Mahmood resisted the plan and did not place her statement before the SECP Commission.
The former Chairman SECP is already in the custody of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on allegation of record tampering in the case of Chaudhry Sugar Mills, owned by the Sharif family.
The standing committee had called four key witnesses in the case – Mahin Fatima, Tahir Mahmood, Abid and Ali Azeem – to know what exactly had transpired.
It was unfortunate that the SECP officials closed the case file from backdates and they should not have compromised, observed Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, chairman of the standing committee. He said that officers should not compromise their jobs for the sake of promotion and favourite postings.
Mandviwalla said that the episode had tarnished SECP’s image.
Mahmood, who is also a witness in the case, said that in 2011 the investigation had been launched against a few companies, including the Chaudhry Sugar Mills. He did not disclose the nature of allegations against the Chaudhry Sugar Mills.
He said that in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case, the SECP sought information from two departments of the United Kingdom under Section 261 of the Companies Ordinance of 1984.
Mahmood said that when UK departments did not provide the requisite information, the SECP decided to seek information from company officials under Section 263. He said that because of lack of progress on request under Section 261, the SECP decided to close the matter.
But in June last year – three months after the Panama Leaks, Zafar Hijazi called Ali Azeem, Mahin Fatima and Abid in his room and asked them to close the investigation under Section 263 from back date. Mahmood said that Hijazi also stopped them from meeting codal formalities to close the case.
“If I had been in his place, I would not have asked to close the file from back date even if the file had to be closed,” said Mahmood.
Ali Azeem maintained that Zafar Hijazi had snubbed him for sending information requests to UK authorities. Azeem was no longer a relevant case officer, after he got transferred to another department but he was forced to sign the papers to close the investigation from back date.
The four SECP officers could not give a satisfactory response to a question about the benefit that the Chaudhry Sugar Mills got by the closure of the inquiry from back date.