On 9th April the Jang group’s English-language newspaper The News reported a new lead in the stock market scandal. The culprit, according to the news story, was one Zafar Iqbal who allegedly defaulted on a “futures contract to the tune of Rs500 million” (that’s about US$ 8 million in real money).
The newspaper went on to state:
“Zafar Iqbal was involved in insider trading in collusion with management of the stock exchange as well. His close contact with SECP and deep association with the Ministry of Finance higher-ups, put undue
pressure on the stock exchange management.
A member of the exchange on condition of anonymity said, "The actions taken by the director are a severe breach of regulations and ethics besides clear violation of rules regarding conflict of interest."
According to him, "The SECP nominated directors act like cronies of the regulator and have no interest or sympathy with day-to-day happenings of the exchange."
While I suspect that Zafar Iqbal is not a crucial figure in the stock exchange crash - there are much bigger players and Rs 50 crores in futures is probably just peanuts for them.
His name was probably raised to dirty the already murky water as it indirectly pointed the finger at the government and the Ministry of Finance. If what is alleged against Zafar Iqbal is factual then it will only probably prove no more then that he is a most unscrupulous and extremely greedy person. Unfortunately that is not an uncommon failing in Pakistan’s modern society.
And, who exactly is this Zafar Iqbal?
* Well for one he is a director on the board of Karachi Stock Exchange and was nominated to that position by Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan
* He was appointed the Managing Director of Pak-Oman Investment Company, set up in 2001 with a Rs1.5 billion paid up capital provided by the governments of Pakistan and Oman.
* More importantly, he is known to be an acolyte of one Shaukat Aziz, currently Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Zafar Iqbal is said to enjoy an unsavoury reputation but no more than his pal Mota Sherri (aka Shehzad Hussain). Mota Sherri - of the fabulous girth – was an ex-Citibanker who became the handyman for Mansoor ul Haq during the period of the ex-Admiral's massive corruption sprees.
These are the kind of people that someone like Shaukat Aziz should be avoiding like the plague, but he doesn’t. Someone should perhaps ask him why?