ISLAMABAD: A special court of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Wednesday adjourned the hearing of a case against former Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) chairman Zafar Hijazi in a record tampering case pertaining to Chaudhry Sugar Mills owned by the Sharif family until December 19.
The hearing was adjourned due to the absence of prosecution witnesses. Former Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) chairman Zafar Hijazi, who is currently out on bail, appeared before the court.
During the previous hearing of the case, judge Iram Niaz had dismissed Hijazi’s plea seeking acquittal in the case on grounds that there was sufficient evidence to initiate proceedings against former SECP chairman. She had also directed the prosecution to present witnesses to testify against Hijazi during the next hearing.
Hijazi had moved the application through his counsel under section 265-k of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP) before the court seeking acquittal over lack of evidence.
A special court of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on October 27 had indicted Hijazi in a record tampering case pertaining to Chaudhry Sugar Mills owned by the Sharif family.
According to the charge sheet, Hijazi had coerced his subordinates to change dates on documents related to the sugar mills.
Hijazi pleaded not guilty to the charges before the special court judge, Iram Niazi.
His counsel had argued that the statement of SECP officer, Maheen Fatima, was not solid enough to initiate trial proceedings against Hijazi. However, the prosecutor opposed the remarks, following which Hijazi was indicted.
Hijazi, who had been out on bail, has been booked in the case in the wake of the Supreme Court’s order in the Panama Papers case for allegedly tampering with financial records of the Sharif family’s company.
Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) official Maheen Fatima, in July this year had claimed that she had been forced to change her statement to the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) under duress.
Speaking in front of the Senate Standing Committee of Finance, Fatima alleged that former SECP chief Zafar Hijazi locked her in a room on June 14 had alleged that she was locked in a room for talking to the Panama JIT.
“On June 14, I was locked in a room for talking to the JIT members and telling them the factual position regarding closing of the mill’s files,” she had stated.
She claimed that Hijazi ordered the case to be closed in back dates as Chaudhry Sugar Mills would have to face consequences if the case was closed on current dates. “Hijazi issued orders to close the case on note sheet, and not make a [formal] report,” Fatima added.
Subsequently, an FIA inquiry team found Hijazi guilty of tampering the records of companies owned by the Sharif family. The team submitted a 28-page inquiry report to the Supreme Court on July 9, in which it had endorsed the stance of the JIT probing the offshore assets of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family in connection with the Panama gate case.
Hijazi’s lawyer, however, had argued in court that SECP staffers did not tamper records of Chaudhry Sugar Mills under duress. Both the SECP officers named in the case had acted on their own, his lawyer had said.
The former SECP chief was physically remanded to FIA’s custody for another three days after his four-day remand expired on July 26.