SECP body concerned over delay in report on theft of data

Dawn

ISLAMABAD: The SECP Policy Board on Friday expressed concern over the delay in submission of the fact-finding committee’s report on the theft of sensitive information from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

The fact-finding committee, headed by SECP commissioner Sadia Khan, was formed by the SECP chairman on Aug 28, a day after news about overseas assets of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information retired Lt Gen Asim Bajwa appeared, alleging that the SECP had deleted certain data from its website.

In a related development, the SECP decided not to submit the fact-finding committee’s report to the policy board, but to place it before an emergency meeting of the SECP that would be held on Saturday, informed sources said.

Finding will be presented at SECP’s emergency meeting today

“There are serious concerns from all sides over the report and, therefore, it has been decided that a special meeting of the SECP will be held today (Saturday) as it is a non-working day and only a few relevant officials will be present in the office,” said one senior executive of the SECP.

The sources in the commission also revealed that keeping in view the sensitivity of the matter, the PM Office, too, had asked the SECP to submit a copy of the report to it.

The sources said that it had been decided that the commission would be given a digital presentation by the head of the fact-finding committee, Ms Sadia Khan, the commissioner of the SECP, and only one hard copy of the report would be printed after it was approved by the commission’s meeting and that copy would be forwarded to the PM Secretariat in a sealed envelope.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the SECP Policy Board, Masoud Naqvi, has expressed dismay over the delay in the finalisation of the fact-finding committee’s report and disagreed with the commission over the matter.

Members of the policy board, including Khalid Mirza, said that the report should be made public and those responsible should be punished.

The policy board directed the SECP that in accordance with the Securities Act, 2015, leakage or theft of non-public officials’ information was a criminal offence and all relevant rules should be clearly disseminated to all employees.

Members of the policy board have observed that there was need to upgrade and capacity building of SECP employees.

“As most of the employees were inducted during the tenure of former chairmen Zafar Hijazi, Tahir Mehmood and Zafar Abdullahm, a majority of them have political affiliations,” claimed one member of the Policy Board.

After initials findings of the SECP, the IT Department reported that there had been unrelated logins by Mr Arsalan Zafar, the Additional Director of the Market Surveillance Depart­ment. The department has the responsibility to oversee and detect any unusual activity in the Stock Market.

The Market Surveillance Department has authorised access to Nadra data also and the IT Department reported to the fact-finding committee that Mr Zafar made logins to Nadra data, too, and collected the information, including CNIC numbers of family members of retired Gen Bajwa.

Ms Sadia Khan reported the matter to the Chairman of the SECP and the laptop of Mr Arsalan Zafar was confiscated by the IT Department in the first week of September and he had been sent abroad on forced leave.

All executives of the SECP are given laptops by the commission and their admin rights are held by the IT Department and, as a result, none of the laptops could be formatted and even the deleted files could be recovered.

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