SECP Issues Search and Seizure Rules for Property Raids

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has issued its Search and Seizure Rules 2019.

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan had been given the authority to conduct raids and confiscate records. The federal cabinet had approved the SECP Seize and Search Rules 2019, which have now been issued.

As part of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) requirements to document the economy and expand Pakistan’s tax base, the SECP (Search and Seizure) Rules, 2019 were promulgated.

These rules lay down the procedure for the use of powers by SECP’s investigation officer in relation to the investigation ordered by Commission to carry out search and seizure of any property in order to document the economy and identify the deceptive corporate sector,

According to the rules, the investigating officer may enter any place after obtaining requisite permission. The officer is required to prepare an inventory of seized documents and electronic evidence in the presence of the occupant. Also required is a seizure memo on the spot and a case diary which records all steps taken by the investigation team.

The search needs to be carried out in the presence of two witnesses who can be any incumbent of the property and in their absence; any SECP officer other than a member of the investigation team can be a witness.

In the wake of this investigation, the SECP officer may take local police assistance for the search and may call administration agency for its assistance

Where resistance is expected, the investigating officer can obtain search-warrants from the concerned Magistrate. The officer is also entitled to break any door, window or vehicle in order to seize any movable property. Owners of lockers are required to open them and failure to do so can result in the locker being broken. The investigating officer also has the right to search individuals.

The occupant of the searched property shall have the right to seek the authorization of the investigating officer. He should be present during the search and seizure. He has the right to have a copy of any statement recorded during the search and seizure.

During the course of the investigation, the officer may access, seize and secure electronic devices and require any person to provide passwords to open the devices.

The personal information contained in any document seized and kept shall not be divulged to any third person, except for the compliance of any law for the time being in force.

The penalty for the contravention of these rules will be Rs. 10 million and if the contravention continues then Rs. 100,000 per day.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the government had given sufficient opportunity to declare their assets in the Assets Declaration Scheme, now it would take action without any bias.