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December 19, 2019

SEPB chief, who criticised NAB, faces inquiry


December 19, 2019

Khalid Mirza. File photo

ISLAMABAD: As the Chairman Securities Exchange Policy Board (SEPB) Khalid Mirza recently criticized NAB’s interference into regulatory body’ affairs, the anti-graft body has responded him by initiating an inquiry against him on a trivial matter. The NAB, however, denies any reprisal on its part.

In its Friday’s press release, the National Accountability Bureau stated it had initiated an inquiry against the Chairman SEPB on a complaint that he misused his powers and made some illegal appointments in the policy board. The NAB Rawalpindi will start an inquiry into this matter.

Chairman SEPB Khalid Mirza has been quite vocal against NAB’s interference in the regulatory body’s affairs and had recently criticized that the bureau has been using its powers to intimidate the government departments.

A well-placed source informed The News that Mr. Mirza has not only spoken on media against NAB’s incompetence and its interference into regulatory body’s affairs but as a chairman of SECP’s policy board he took action and issued directives from the board’s platform. This apparently is the only reason which infuriated NAB to initiate an inquiry against him on a petty issue, commented the source.

On November 16, 2019, the Policy Board of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan gave directives to the SECP to repatriate all its employees serving in various Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) including NAB. “Firm directions were given by the Board to the Commission to recall all staff members seconded to the LEAs and also transfer back cases wrongfully referred to NAB. Directions were also given for the LEAs to be appropriately for the cost of SECP staff seconded”, read the official statement of Securities Exchange Policy Board issued on November 16, 2019.

The News then probed the matter to find out whether any illegal appointment has been made by the Chairman Policy Board of SECP or not. It was found that five experts had been engaged by the Policy Board as a guest experts including former SECP chairman Shamim Ahmed Khan, former head of SECP’s Enforcement Division and Companies Division Rashid Sadiq, former Managing Director of Lahore Stock Exchange, Aftab Ahmed Chaudhry, former chairman SECP Tahir Mehmood, and Moeen Fudda.

The SEPB hired the services of these experts after the approval of SECP Commission. A well-placed source informed The News that these five experts are not regular employees of SECP or SEPB. They are invited as a special expert guest when needed. As per the SECP policies, these experts are entitled to Rs50,000 per meeting as a TA/DA and nothing else.

The source said that Rashid Sadiq has attended only three to four meetings of the board but has not obtained a single penny as TA/DA from the board. As a matter of fact he participated in one or two meetings of the board through video link from Karachi. Similarly, Aftab Chaudhry has provided his expertise free of cost and did not receive any TA/DA from the SECP or its board. He attended only two meetings. He is an expert on security laws and provided his expertise to the board on the matter free of cost, informed the source.

“Similarly, Mr Moeen Fudda has attended two or three meetings of the board. The board had engaged him for its sub-committee on Insurance matter. He, however, excused and left the committee later. Tahir Mehmood was engaged for his expertise on company laws, but he excused to be member of the sub-committee citing his health conditions. Former SECP Chairman Shamim Ahmed Khan, however, is still engaged with the board as an adviser and he is being paid TA/DA as per the policy of SECP. Currently only two experts are engaged with the board while one of them is working on honorary basis.

“The NAB’s statement of initiating an inquiry on a petty issue is showing the bureau’s vendetta against the Chairman SEPB as when you will look into the record the total expenditures on these experts might not even exceed Rs one million. The NAB has ordered the inquiry to intimidate Mr Khalid Mirza”, alleged the source.

When contacted by this correspondent on November 14, 2019, Khalid Mirza had alleged the anti-graft body is regularly intervening in the regulatory bodies’ affairs and using its powers to intimidate the government departments. Two days after the story was published in The News, the policy board of SECP also issued an official statement and directed the regulatory body to recall all its employees currently working in LEAs.

“NAB’s interference and intimidation is completely wrong and it should not happen but NAB is doing this to strong-arm the regulatory bodies. Just because of NAB’s intimidation the government officials do not raise their voice against bureau’s illegal activities. NAB was investigating a case of a company’s merger and asked the SECP to send an expert in the field of merger. The SECP recommended a name of an official who has been dealing the companies merger since last many years. The NAB rejected this name. The regulatory body then sent two other names for the said purpose but both these names were rejected too. NAB then sent the name of a specific person for this case. Interestingly, NAB’s recommended person’s repute was not good within the department. I don’t know why NAB chooses such persons who have bad repute,” Khalid Mirza had commented on November 14 while talking to this scribe.

“Normally the government officials are sent to other departments on deputation but NAB follows no rules. The regulatory bodies would have no issues if these officials are sent to NAB on deputation. By doing this NAB would have to pay their salaries and other perks and privileges but the anti-graft body simply sent the name of specific person and ask the regulatory body to lend his services to NAB for a specific case investigations. NAB is violating the prescribed laws but it seems the Bureau is above the law,” said Khalid Mirza on November 14 while talking to The News.

When contacted to get his point of view on the NAB’s press release, he refused to comment. When contacted, NAB’s Spokesperson Asim Ali Nawazish said as mentioned in the statement, the bureau has not initiated the inquiry by its own. It rather has initiated the investigation on a complaint against the SEPB chairman. He said he cannot further comment on the matter as everything is mentioned in the press release however, he can only tell this scribe that the complaint is about some advisors who have been appointed by the Chairman SEPB.

This scribe asked the NAB Spokesperson if NAB has initiated the inquiry against the SEPB chairman as he has been quite vocal against the bureau, Mr Nawazish said the bureau has received a complaint against Mr Mirza and it’s not a NAB’s own action. He rejected the notion of any vendetta.