IHC allows FIA to start probing EOBI scandal suspects

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday allowed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to proceed against the suspects allegedly involved in the Rs290 million EOBI investment scam.

Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri of the IHC dismissed four petitions filed against the ongoing inquiry by the FIA into purchase of Rs290m worth of shares of a loss-making entity by the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution. The petitions were filed by Amtex Private Limited owner Khurram Iftikhar, Khurram Shahzad and two market securities.

Khurram Iftikhar, being chief executive of the company, appeared before the FIA and got his statement recorded on Dec1, 2011, in connection with the EOBI investment in shares of his company. The directors of the company again received notices from the FIA in 2013. The petitioners again appeared before the FIA in the second inquiry and got their statements recorded.

The FIA started the third inquiry and consequently registered an FIR under Sections 409, 109 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code, read with Section 5(2)(47) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, against them on December 31, 2015, at the FIA police station, Karachi, over allegations of causing a loss of Rs290m to the public exchequer/EOBI.

The petitioners had challenged the FIA inquiry and secured arestraining order.

Petitioners` counsel Hasnain Kazmi and Salman Aslam Butt argued before the IHC that their clients were being unnecessarily harassed by various public functionaries and the FIA was causing substantial pecuniary damage and loss to the reputation and good will of the companies.

They contended that in terms of FIA rules, more specifically Rule 5 thereof, initiation of any inquiry and registration of any criminal case by the FIA involving any public servant over BPS-19 requires prior authorisation, approval and permission of the Federal AntiCorruption Council.The allegations levelle d in the FIR can only be dealt with under special enactments and not general law of the land. The SECP Ordinance provides the machinery for dealing with the matters related to securities, including prosecution of offences, the counsel argued.

SECP`s counsel also challenged the jurisdiction of the IHC on the grounds that the subject matter of sale of shares took place in Karachi within the territorial jurisdiction of the Sindh High Court.

The EOBI also contended that since the inquiry had been conducted in Karachi, the FIR registered in Karachi and the challan submitted to the court of competent jurisdiction in Karachi, the IHC had no jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the matter.

The FIA, on the other hand, informed the court that the petitioners had neither joined the investigation nor surrendered themselves before the court of competent jurisdiction.

Final challan was submitted on May 22, 2017, to the court of Special Judge Central-II, Karachi.