Bankers, corporate sector comes out in support of NBP President Arif Usmani

Country’s corporate sector once again calls for FBR, NAB to protect confidential information regarding ongoing probes until conclusion

LAHORE: Pakistan’s corporate sector including bankers, businessmen and finance professionals have come out in support of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) President, Arif Usmani after reports of an ongoing investigation by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) into alleged offshore assets owned by him were leaked to the media, stating that such information should be kept confidential in all cases until an accused is acquitted or convicted.

According to a report carried by this publication on January 3, the FBR is probing the incumbent NBP President Arif Usmani for allegedly concealing offshore accounts.

Signed by dozens of professionals, a statement in support of Usmani said that “reports of frivolous charges against him clearly indicate the mala fide intent of vested interests.”

Similarly, taking to Twitter, a number of renown officials also condemned the leaking of the news and its subsequent publishing in the media.

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“As former Senior Partner of A. F. Ferguson & Co and former FBR chairman, it is my responsibility to agitate public debate on the personal tax of NBP President Mr Arif Usmani. It destroys the faith in our tax system and resultantly Pakistan. AU is an honourable man. Save Pakistan,” former FBR chairman Shabbar Zaidi said in a tweet.

Replying to Zaidi’s tweet, Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Policy Board Member and (KE) BoD’s Board Member, Asad Ali Shah, a chartered accountant by profession, regretted the “media campaign against Arif Usmani”.

“Highly regret vicious media campaign against Mr. Arif Usmani, President NBP, a thorough gentleman who was selected to lead NBP through a robust process. I agree any tax questions raised by FBR need to be in accordance with law & are not for public debate or domain.”

Punjab Technical Education & Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA) Senior Consultant Azam Jamil tweeted, “Arif is a dear friend. Have known him all my life. He would not earn a wrong dollar ever. Not submitting a document could possibly be an error in judgment, never in intention.”

It may be mentioned here that the country’s corporate sector, including members of the Pakistan Business Council (PBC), has repeatedly raised the issue of leaking news of investigations against officials holding posts in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to the media before conclusions. Meetings in this regard had also been held with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan in October 2019, wherein it was suggested that federal agencies be directed to conceal information regarding ongoing probes until they are concluded.

It was said that professionals in the industry consciously avoid top slots in SOEs, for instance, PIA, PTCL, PEPCO etc. due to such an atmosphere where professionals with stellar careers are subjected to media trials that tarnish their reputations before a judgement is reached.

More recently, it was opined that the FBR could be mistaken or there might be vested lobbies involved against officials holding important positions in national institutions. However, the criticism almost always goes against the media rather than federal agencies.

The same sentiment also echoed in Usmani’s favour, with businessmen and others privy to the matter saying that the trial against him was baseless, to begin with.

“Just when govt needs professional expertise to sort our PSEs and public/private partnership is the way forward, media trial of Arif Usmani, President NBP, an accomplished banker with impeccable credentials and declared wealth is regretful,” a tweet by Pakistan Business Council (PBC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ehsan A. Malik said, adding, “I am sure Arif Usmani can account for his wealth though how reasonable is it to ask for a 30-year record of earnings? Notwithstanding, this investigation could be conducted confidentially. How do you expect more professionals to serve the public good when they can see how courageous people with an unblemished record like Arif are treated?”

Members of the business community also pointed out that making the amount of money the incumbent NBP president has is no big deal for a banker of his stature. “Any successful banker would be rich with hard-earned money. By these hounding tactics who on earth with competence would ever think to work for the government?” UBL Fund Managers ex-CEO Mir Muhammad Ali said.


On January 3, this publication had reported about FBR’s probe into the NBP’s incumbent president’s alleged offshore assets based on documents available with the media.

The publication had also reached out for a statement from Arif Usmani, who informed Profit that he is submitting information all regarding his offshore assets, acquired during the 26 years that he spent out of the country, to the FBR.

It may be noted here that the government, in consultation with the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), had approved the appointment of Arif Usmani as CEO of the NBP for a duration of three years on February 12, 2019.

He had been serving at Mashreq Bank whereas his previous experience included stints as global head of wholesale banking at Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank PJSC, and also managing director and country officer of Citibank NA Pakistan.

 

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Media trial against a brilliant and honest incumbent President NBP is condemnable
    till an accused is acquitted or convicted. Let the Mr. Arif Usmani clearify his alleged offshore company null and void. Mr. Usmani may be given full opportunity to present his full opinion before probe team.
    Mr. Usmani has dedicated record of banking services with efficiency and relentless devotion.

  2. It is indeed very sad to hear all this. If that would be the attitude then who will come forward to build Pakistan. A person who served many many years outside Pakistan at higher levels of world renowned institutions surely make money to protect his family and make assets for their family then what is wrong in it. One can imagine the hard work and his or her tiring efforts in making themselves, so what is wrong in it. Yes, in this complex tax rules one may make mistake that can be tackled professionally but not the way Mr. Arif or any one else by publicly personal assassination. We must remember that it is not only negatively destroying the image of our institutions but it is also ultimately destroying our country. If this is keep going on then no one will come forward to serve Pakistan. Hence, I encouraged the role of our corporate sector raising their voice in this regard and expect from regulators to probe sensibly as it is hard earn wealth and not looting to our loving country.

  3. Arif indeed is a superb strategist when it comes to organisational restructuring. His efforts to turnaround a stagnant sleeping giant like NBP has earned him many enemies amongst status quo beneficiaries of NBP. The campaign against him partly is a result of it. He undoubtedly is a fair and disciplined person who cant commit such acts for which he is currently being accused of.

  4. All engineered by Arif Usmani to save his skin trying to project himself in the way his predecessor NBP Presidents like Ali Raza, Saeed Ahmed etc did by projecting themselves above the law and accountability but ultimately long noose of law tightened against their kneck.

    Further those whom Arif Usmani arranged to clamour in his favor are those who had remained great beneficiaries of lucrative assignments and benefitted immensely from NBP resources time and again by one way or the other.

    What explanation Arif Usmani has to give on his highhandedness in not implementing Honorable Supreme Court verdict allowing retired employees 70% pension and adamantly even not giving for the last 10 years annual budgetary increases in pensions in line with given to other government and statutory organisation employees and multiplied sufferings to thousands of people. Not only that but despite declaring profits, not giving for the last 3 years dividend and bonus sharrs to bank sharrholders.

    On his high handedness and causing economic strangulation and sufferings to millions, why those clamoring for him now kept their lips tight.

  5. It’s international norm and all such corruption should be brought into public notice.

    Those who are saying to keep the data secret till Court judgment,. Wants to have a secure side for offering money for bargaining.

    It’s public money, public deserve to know everything…

  6. Establishing offshore companies or accounts for high level officials is not a big deal for them…if something is “*leaked *” it must be in public domain…and let the judicial system work independently…and if he is found guilty beyond any reasonable doubt must be punished…

  7. The man is good. The bankers signing letters to back him have some real low lives / scum among them. He is better off telling those “senior bankers” dredge of society not to back him.

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