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June 20, 2019

SECP official, a judge’s relative, nabbed in Zardari case

Top Story

June 20, 2019

ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Wednesday arrested a close relative of a sitting high court judge in connection with the Park Lane Estate case against Asif Ali Zardari.

The arrest was made in Karachi and the person in custody was later shifted to Islamabad for transit remand. He isadditional registrar of Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan in Karachi. More arrests of SECP officials are expected in coming days, according to an official.

The arrested individual has been accused of extending undue favor to the company of Asif Zardari in transfer of ownership and record keeping process as the company’s liabilities were mentioned but without seeking financial details. It has been learnt that being the dealing officer of SECP, he didn’t enforce the submission of annual financial returns, which resulted into concealment of material facts.

Likewise, he had accepted the application for registration of this company from an unauthorised representative. According to a source, the application was submitted by a director of the company wherein it was entered in the record that submission had been made by the chief executive officer.

Park Lane Estate is co-owned by Zardari and his son, Bilawal. Zardari, NAB alleges, had acquired the company illegally through a frontman, Iqbal Memon, in 1989. (Earlier, a tycoon of hotel industry was its owner who had it registered in 1978 and a commercial plot was in the name of this company when acquired by Memon. That plot had remained bone of contention between the tycoon and Zardari when the latter was president).

Zardari and Bilawal became shareholders of the company in 2009, though efforts of ownership transfer initiated in 2008 when returns of 18 years (1990-2007) were submitted together raising suspicions and queries from the SECP. In 2009, the SECP official presently under arrest played a crucial role in doing the needful, bypassing all rules and procedures.

Both father and son have a stake of 25 percent each, according to NAB, and that Zardari had the authority to use the company accounts at his discretion as the director of the company. The News’s Editor Investigation, Ansar Abbasi, was the first to report in 2009 about the prime land measuring 2,460 kanals purchased through this company. Valued at CDA price of over Rs2 billion, it was purchased only at just Rs62 million. In a 1997 case against Zardari, the same land was associated with the former president but it was then dropped due to lack of evidence.

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