PIA on SECP’s radar over ‘market manipulation’

SECP to probe PIA CEO's statement on 'profitability' after it 'helped increase the corporation's share price'

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ISLAMABAD: Taking serious notice of a recent statement issued by the Pakistan International Airlines Corporation chief executive officer (CEO), the Securities and Exchange Policy Board has directed the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) to examine the CEO’s remarks on PIA’s profitability, which, according to the board, hinted of “market manipulation”.

The meeting was chaired by SECP Board Chairman Prof Khalid Mirza on Saturday.

According to sources, the SECP Board took serious note of the PIA CEO’s statement regarding the corporation’s profitability, which, prima facie, “could be taken as manipulation of the market”. The board directed the commission to initiate a probe and take appropriate enforcement action in this regard.

The SECP board was informed that after a recent statement issued by the PIA’s chief, market transactions had increased while the corporation’s share prices went up significantly.

The board directed the SECP to inquire about the reasons behind the “timely” issuance of the statement. It further directed the SECP to ask the CEO explain his position.

The board also took notice of the non-submission of PIA’s two-year annual accounts.

“The commission must develop a system by which public sector organisations are duly monitored for any possible violations of the laws administered by the SECP,” the board maintained.

Meanwhile, the SECP board approved the General Takaful Accounting Regulations, 2019, the Provisional Manager and Official Liquidator Regulations 2019, Corporate Rehabilitation Regulations 2019, Directive on adoption of IFRS-14 Regulatory Deferral Accounts under section 225 of Companies Act 17, the Directive on financial reporting of family window Takaful operations by life insurers, and Compliance of Compulsory Group Insurance under the Industrial and Commercial Employment (Standing Order) Ordinance, 1968.

The board took up a matter to initiate the review process of the Securities Act 2015, in order to remove harsh regulatory impediments that hamper the overall growth of securities’ market. The review is aimed at facilitating ‘ease of doing business’ in the country.

A decision was also made to review and rationalise the Futures Act 2016 and the Limited Liability Partnership Act 2017 as the laws were “onerous and cumbersome”. The board also advised the commission to revisit the Regulatory Sandbox Guidelines 2019 (Insurance) and gave directions for appropriate amendments be made to the Companies (further Issue of Capital) Regulations 2018 so as to facilitate and promote the mobilisation of capital.

Firm directions were given by the board to recall all SECP staff members seconded to the LEAs and also transfer back cases wrongfully referred to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

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