SECP under fire for failing to probe Multan metro graft charge

Zafar Abdullah, acting chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, has disclosed that neither he nor any of the commissioners in the SECP have access to the documents related to alleged corruption or money-laundering in the Multan metro bus project.

Responding to queries at a meeting of the Senate Standing Com­mittee on Finance here on Wed­nesday, Mr Abdullah said that only the information related to the allegations of corruption and money-laundering by contractors of the Multan metro bus project was shared in the commission’s meetings.

The committee was informed that the issue was raised after an inquiry was initiated by the regulatory authority of China about suspicious inflows in the accounts of a company.

As a result, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) initiated investigations against the Chinese company Jiangsu Yabaite Technology Co Ltd (Yabaite) in 2016, while Yabaite told the Chin­ese regulator that it had received the amount after executing work at the Multan metro bus project.

Regulator’s officials parry question whether Shahbaz owned Capital Engineering

Based on this information a delegation of the CSRC arrived in Pakistan in December last year and approached the SECP officially seeking assistance over the information provided by Yabaite.

The committee was informed that while correspondence continued with the CSRC, the SECP forwarded the case to the Federal Investigation Agency on Aug 30, 2017, after certain fake letters related to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and two Senators were presented by Yabaite to the Chinese regulator.

The meeting was informed that Yabaite told the Chinese regulator that the payments were received and it was the sub-contractor of Capital Engineering in the Multan metro bus project.

Chairman of the committee Saleem Mandviwala asked questions from the SECP team comprising Zafar Abdullah, Commissioner Akif Saeed and head of International Relations Department Khalida Habib.

Mr Mandviwala asked if the documents provided by the CSRC revealed the statement by one of the chief executives of the Capital Engineering that the firm was owned by Mr Shahbaz Sharif.

The SECP officials declined to respond to the question on the ground that there was no record or presence of the Capital Engineering and the commission could not trace its address. Similarly there were no contact details, including the CNIC of its CEO.

Members of the Senate committee noted the missing link and asked how the Chinese met the CEO of Capital Engineering, because his statement was present in the documents forwarded by the CSRC to the SECP.

The SECP officials repeatedly said that the investigation was being carried out by the FIA and that they were waiting for final inquiry report from the CSRC.

Apart from Mr Mandviwala, members of the committee — Mohsin Aziz, Ilyas Bilour and even Saud Majeed — decried the SECP for possibly delaying the inquiry deliberately, and called for further inquiries of actions taken by the SECP in this regard.

However, Senator Ayesha Raza stated that there was nothing to move ahead as the SECP had clarified its position and the matter was being inquired by the Punjab government.

Later, a member of the committee told newsmen that $17.5 million had been remitted from Dubai only, while Yabaite received money from Malaysia, the US and Hong Kong too.

“This all came to the limelight after the suspended SECP chairman Zafar Hijazi was netted by the FIA,” the senator added.

Talking to Dawn, an official of the SECP said there was no authenticity in the documents presented by the Chinese regulator and the SECP was waiting for completion of the FIA inquiry.