ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance on Tuesday was informed that the Ministry of Interior had not yet issued security clearance to M/S China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHL), which is building and operating the Gwadar Port, causing the parliamentary panel to ask the authorities to probe this matter.
“The Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has been directed to launch an investigation against COPHL,” the NA committee said in a meeting held here at the Parliament House on Tuesday under chairmanship of Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh.
SECP Executive Director Shaukat Hussain informed the NA panel that the Ministry of Interior had not yet issued a security clearance certificate to M/s (COPHLC-Pakistan) that is building and operating Gwadar deep-sea port. He said that they had written to the Ministry of Interior in November 2014 but so far got no response.
Under the requirements of the Ministry of Interior, companies involving foreign directorships and subscribers have to secure mandatory clearance –the No Objection Certificate, from the Ministry of Interior.
PTI leader Asad Umar revealed that COPHLC-Pakistan was a company of unknown credentials at best and attributed to an article in which it was claimed that the parent company of the COPHC-Pakistan, the China Overseas Ports Holding Limited, was a one-room company, registered in Hong Kong.
The chairman of the NA panel asked the SECP to probe these allegations in order to determine the origin of the parent company of the COPHLC-Pakistan. The committee also directed the SECP to submit complete profiles of the parent company and its subsidiary. The committee asked the SECP to review the security clearance issue of the COPHC-Pakistan. The SECP also submitted documents in the standing committee. Its papers showed that the three directors of the company hold only three shares – one each for its three directors – and the rest of its total 10 million shares is owned by COPHC Limited based out of Hong Kong.
The COPHLC requested the SECP Registrar for approval for COPHCL-Pakistan name in August 2014. The SECP said that as the Interior Ministry didnot give a security clearance certificate, the regulator proceeded with the incorporation of the company after taking standard undertaking from COPHLC-Pakistan.
For two years, the company did not file its annual audited accounts and the SECP then served a show-cause notice to the COPHC-Pakistan on February 9, 2017 for not filing the annual accounts and other updated documents. Consequently, the company filed the annual audited accounts for the years ended June 30, 2015 and June 30, 2017.