SECP chief appointed on recommendation of Ishaq Dar

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KARACHI: The appointment of Shaukat Hussain as new chairman of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) was made on the recommendation of former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, sources in finance ministry have claimed.

The government has appointed Commissioner Shaukat Hussain as the SECP chairman with immediate effect, according to an official notification by the finance ministry released on Saturday evening.

Sources said that a summary was moved through a circular by the Ministry of Finance through Finance Minister Mifta Ismail to appoint the senior most Commissioner Tahir Mahmood as permanent chief of SECP and more than 75 cabinet members approved the decision. The Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also approved his appointment.

But another summary of Shaukat Hussain was moved on the recommendation of ex-chief of SECP Zafar Hijazi and former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on May 11, 2018 (Friday) and after which, the ministry of finance issued the appointment notification of Shaukat Hussain.

The decision was taken as Tahir Mahmood was the main witness in the record tempering case initiated by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against Zafar Hijazi, and ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The sources said Hijazi and Dar intervened and manipulated the final process of the appointment of Tahir Mahmood and were successful in appointing the junior Commissioner of SECP.

The new Chairman was not even a head of a department in SECP before October 2017 nor does he have any experience.

Hussain was a fellow member of the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP). Before assuming the charge as a commissioner on March 27, 2018, he was the Executive Director and registrar of companies in-charge of Corporatization and Compliance Department (CCD) at the SECP.

He became an Executive Director in January 2018, Commissioner in March 2018, and Chairman in May 2018, the sources said.

The professional circles in the country are baffled that why the outgoing government has made this controversial appointment just 18 days before the end of its five year constitutional term? What is the motive for not appointing Tahir Mahmood, except perhaps to further ruin and demolish the leftover writ and independence of this national institution?

The appointment of the SECP chairman was overdue since December 16, 2017. Under the law, the new chairman of the SECP has to be appointed within four months after the end of the chairman term. On July 24, 2017 the federal government suspended the then chairman SECP, Zafar Hijazi, and appointed Zafar Abdullah as acting chairman. However, the post became technically vacant on December 16 when Hijazi completed his full term.

Shaukat Hussain has assumed charge, according to a press release issued by the regulator on Saturday.

In March this year, Hussain was appointed as commissioner through a competitive process.

The SECP is currently working below its official strength, as at present there are only four commissioners including the chairman. There is a requirement of appointing a minimum five commissioners to keep the SECP running.

In April, the government placed an advertisement in the press to hire another commissioner. But the process has not been initiated.