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Friday, 30 June 2017

Panama case: SECP’s record tampering proved

Panama case: SECP’s record tampering proved

ISLAMABAD: In what could be a real setback to Sharifs in the on-going Panama case investigations, the JIT’s allegation regarding record tampering and backdated noting and signing of SECP’s 2013 documents of Chaudhary Sugar Mills probe in 2016 have been proved correct, it is learnt.Informed sources said that heads may roll as the SECP officials though confirm that the probe against Sharifs’ sugar mills was actually dropped in 2013, in one of the two files of the SECP on the subject the entry of the closure of the Chaudhry Sugar Mill was signed backdated in June 2016.These sources reveal that as the backdated signing of documents has been proved beyond any shadow of doubt, the top bosses of the SECP are divided as they accuse one another of doing this illegality.

Doubts are also being created by some about the FIA inquiry into the matter though the agency has yet to complete its probe.
Some senior officials of the SECP are considering filing their statements before the apex court. Sources said that the SECP chairman may also file his statement before the Supreme Court.These sources said that the incumbent SECP chairman insists that he is not involved in all this but those officials who signed the backdated document allege that they did it following the chairman’s pressure.It is yet to be seen whether in this case the chairman is proved guilty or the officers concerned are found at fault but the question arises if this illegality was done by the officer(s) on their own or following the pressure of ruling Sharifs.Officials in knowledge of things maintain that the money laundering probe initiated against Chaudhry Sugar Mills in 2011 following the then PPP government’s pressure, was closed in 2013 but it was not reflected in both the files of the case maintained by the SECP. According to a senior SECP official, there were two files maintained at Corporate Supervision Department of SECP (CSD) with regard to Chaudhry Sugar Mills Limited. One of these files was regarding the anti-money laundering investigation in the shape of letter written to UK CA and the other file was the routine examination file.It is said that the relevant note portion in the anti-money laundering investigation file shows that the case was closed in May 2013.

However, the same note was not written on the routine examination file. The source added that the evidence available on record contains letters for closure to UK CA in 2013, relevant note portion of anti-money laundering investigation file and non-inclusion of export sales regarding observation in the Section 263 order, which demonstrate that the matter was already closed.
However, in June 2016, according to sources, former head of CSD Ali Azeem Ikram claimed to have been called in the incumbent chairman’s office where Tahir Mehmood, Commissioner (CLD), Abid Hussain and Ms Maheen Fatima, Director CSD were already sitting there and files of Chaudhry Sugar Mills were lying open on chairman’s table.The chairman, it is alleged, directed the officers to immediately put a backdated note in the file to confirm closing of inquiry on the relevant date.Following chairman’s alleged pressure,

Ms Maheen Fatima was said to have prepared the note with her signature.
The note was signed by Ali Azeem Ikram while Abid Hussain reported the compliance of the same to Tahir Mahmood, Commissioner CSD for onward confirmation to the chairmanthat his directions had been complied with.Azeem Ikram reportedly claimed that he did not sign the note voluntarily and out of free will. Instead he did it under specific direction and in extreme urgency and pressure. But at the same time, the officers concerned claimed that they did not believe that they were doing something illegal. “I genuinely believed that as the matter already stood closed, all I was being directed to do was just to address a minor omission in our internal record which would have no impact on the matter itself or to the outside world,”

a source quoted Azeem Ikram as claiming.
It was also explained that the above incident took place ten months before JIT was even ordered to be set up. Therefore, there was no possibility that while complying with the chairman’s orders, the officers involved had any intention to mislead the JIT or the Supreme Court of Pakistan.According to sources another officer Abid Hussain, who was CSD head in 2016, in his statement, to be submitted before the apex court shortly, claimed that in mid-June 2016, Tahir Mehmood, Commissioner (CSD) called him and asked to advise Ms Maheen Fatima, (being dealing officer of the case) to prepare a case brief of Chaudhry Sugar Mills for the chairman as there was a talk show aired by some news channel about that case. The chairman was concerned about it and wanted to be briefed about the case.Tahir Mehmood asked Ms Maheen Fatima to prepare a case brief, which was put up to the commissioner who advised to give the draft to the chairman who wanted to see it.Ms Maheen, it is said, had informed the chairman that the case was closed in the year 2013 after receipt of information from the Chaudhry Sugar Mills (the company) and even the letter for seeking information from UK authorities was withdrawn after examining the information received from the company.The chairman then called Ali Azeem Ikram, Executive Director (Insurance) who was Head of Department (CSD) in the year 2013. He was also of the view that this matter was closed in the year 2013. However, the chairman pointed out that if the case was closed in the year 2013, why this fact was not recorded on the note sheet.Abid Hussain also alleged that the chairman directed them to immediately put a backdated note in the file confirming closing of inquiry on the relevant date. He told Ms Maheen and Ali Azeem to incorporate the closure note on the note sheet to complete the record.The sources said that in 2011, inquiry against Sharif's Chaudhry Sugar Mills was started on the pressure of the then PPP government.The sources said when the JIT summoned one of the four people (named above in the story), the officer admitted that they had inserted noting in back date. The JIT termed it a case of official record “tampering” following which the FIA was asked to probe the matter. The JIT did not name the officer. The officer’s name has been shared to this correspondent by a source but not reflected in the report.Although the SECP chairman was not available for his comments, in his response to the JIT allegations before the Supreme Court he had categorically denied the allegation and insisted that investigation against Chaudhry Sugar Mills was in fact closed in 2013. The SECP reply, which was submitted through the Attorney General, the Commission added, “Correspondence with UK CA for mutual legal assistance clearly showed that the said investigation was closed in 2013 well before the appointment of the incumbent chairman.”

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