ISLAMABAD - A local court on Monday granted pre-arrest bail to Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Chairman Zafar Hijazi in record tampering case.

A special judge (central) Tahir Mahmood conducted hearing of pre-arrest bail plea of Zafar Hijazi and granted him bail till July 22nd.

The special judge (central) accepted his pre-arrest bail against two surety bonds of Rs250,000 each.

Earlier, a single bench of IHC comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, on July 11, had granted transit-bail to Hijazi facing charges of tampering with the records of the Sharif family’s companies.

The IHC bench granted Hijazi transitory bail till July 17th and directed him to approach the appropriate forum – the Special Court (Central) in this matter.

In this matter, Zafar Hijazi had moved court through his counsel Sheikh Zameer Hussain who requested the court to grant bail to his client contending that his 64-year-old client’s medical condition is not good as he has a kidney transplant and diabetes mellitus type-2 that would make his detention injurious to his health. The petitioner argued in his petition that the FIA had not proceeded in the matter as it ought to have.

His counsel stated that Hijazi had led the life of an honest and an upright man without any blemish; yet his prestige and dignity had been put at stake.

He maintained that the case was initiated in the SECP to probe into the affairs of the Chaudhary Sugar Mills (Pvt) Ltd, which was allegedly used as a medium for money laundering and fraudulent activities in the guise of a regular and legitimate business. The counsel insisted that the central authorities in the UK and financial services authorities were approached for requisite information and a clarification letter was issued to the company in 2011, while proceedings under sections 261 and 263 of the Companies Ordinance were also initiated.

Hussain continued that two files - one pertaining to money laundering and the other routine examination - were submitted, and the company provided detailed information and documents in 2012 and 2013, which were found to be satisfactory.

He contended that the FIA had not looked into the money-laundering file and rather taken advantage of the discrepancy attributed to the petitioner with malafide intent as the date mentioned in the routine examination file was an error wrongly attributed to the petitioner.

The counsel added that three SECP officers including Abid Hussain, Ali Azeem Akram and Maheen Fatima had agreed on the point that the issue was closed in 2013, but still it was alleged that Hijazi pressurised them in 2016 to change the date in the file to January 14, 2013.

He maintained that to save their skin, they blamed the petitioner for pressuring them as they had slept over the file without proceeding further for more than three years. The petition said, “None of the officers or the FIA have explained or examined what benefit the petitioner would derive from such oral order.”

He said that the FIA had registered the case even though there was no evidence to constitute the offences.

Police, on the directives of the Supreme Court (SC), have lodged a criminal case against him for tampering the record of Sharif family’s companies that was forwarded to the joint investigation team (JIT) probing Sharif family’s business dealings abroad. In its investigations into this matter, the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) had also endorsed allegations levelled by the JIT and found SECP Chairman Zafar Hijazi guilty of tampering with the record of the Sharif family’s companies.

Shahid Rao