KARACHI: The recent undue transfers and postings of some key employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) have once again turned the SECP office into a battleground.
In the last six months, the Acting SECP Chairman Tahir Mahmood showed favourtism in his office and made many decisions of transfers and postings on key posts without taking into confidence the SECP high-ups and others officers.
In a letter sent to Mahmood, SECP Commissioner Imtiaz Haider said, "The transfers and positing were made to benefit market players or obtain predetermined outcomes."
He said the transfers and postings made earlier and now through an office order were without taking me into confidence and without consulting me, despite the fact that it was decided in the previous commission's meeting that an objective assessment would be undertaken at the commission level through an independent expert or consultant regarding the work load, positions, qualifications, skill set and experience rendered and how to utilise the full potential of the employees by assigning the right person for the right job.
According to SECP Act 1997, the acting chairman cannot take any decision without consulting the SECP commissioners.
The letter said that the acting chairman is targeting MSRD of Securities Market Division and Market Surveillance Wing (MSW), which gives the impression that this is all being done apparently for obtaining predetermined outcomes and granting favours to some people and targeting some market participants.
He pointed out a case that all officers working on different assignments or scripts which cast serious indications of involvement of a particular business group have been transferred to different departments, taking them off their earlier assignments, including PICT's Muhammad Ali, EFU's Osman Syed,and insider trading case Junaid's Ms Najia.
Firstly, all the three officers, who worked on reports or assignments to arrive at logical conclusions were transferred to other departments and later MSW as a wing was made part of the Policy, Regulations and Development Department (PRDD).
Later, the PRDD executive director was transferred to Karachi office on the pretext of personal reasons, and now the MSW is being made part of the Special Initiative Department (SID) and an officer with no relevant experience has been made the head of department for SID, including MSW.
"As PICT is being discussed publicly, let me inform you as being the then commissioner of SMD the MSW, I was actively working on this matter of PICT which may lead to the biggest-ever case of money laundering trial of the transaction detected," he said in the letter.
Haider said that a number of competent employees, including an executive director, two directors, one joint director and one deputy director, have been transferred to the Market Development and Investor Education Department but my consent was never sought and as a result some of the most competent senior resources are sidelined which seems to be a decision based on personalities rather than competence.
The officer who has been made head of SID may have substantial experience in the SECP, but his experience is limited to reviewing accounts of listed companies and handling SECP's internal finance and administration matters, and while he may have performed very well at his past assignments, he has no well experience in or any exposure of the capital market, which makes him unsuitable to be heading the surveillance of the capital markets.
This is despite the fact that SECP has an executive director and two directors with substantial experience and expertise in capital markets, one of whom should have been given this responsibility relevant to their field, Haider said in a letter.
Similarly, the new team assigned to him in the surveillance wing has no experience or exposure of capital market either. Enforcement is a large part of the mandate of the SECP, and a person who does not even know the basics of capital market and neither is his team equipped to provide adequate support to him in this regard, will likely make mistakes which could be terribly counterproductive to the SECP's mandate and set up for further litigation.
The letter said, it is also strange and unwarranted that an experienced joint director of MSW has been transferred to a department which is not commensurate with his experience and qualification.
These transfers and posting of officers having relevant experience and demonstrated track record of performance to other department demoralises the employees, Haider said. It also results in uncertainty, sense of deprivation, wastage of skillful resources whereas bringing officers having no experience and of likings of own choice badly impacts the performance of the wing or department and compromises on quality, fairness and impartiality which brings bad repute to SECP as an institution.
The transfers and postings should be made on merit rather than on personal favouritism and dislike and likes of two commissioners Zafar Abdullah and SECP chairman.
Haider said we have come a long way since then and our office commissioners and chairmen have worked very hard at developing HR capability and training. The transfers and postings which are taking place now, he said that SECP is no longer functioning for the betterment of the regulated sectors but for the betterment of the personal gain of the few employees of the commission.
Taking these arbitrary and irrational decisions, he urged the acting chairman for the reverse all the transfers and postings through the referred office order and all transfers and postings in future be brought to the commission for deliberations to ensure that right people are placed for the right job.
He also demanded to call the commission's meeting to discuss other issues which are important and independent functioning of the commission.
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