Imran Khan, PTI clean-bowled by ECP verdict in prohibited funding case

ECP declares PTI received prohibited fundings from foreign nationals: Announces verdict in 8-year-old case: Says Imran submitted misdeclaration: Party received funding from 34 foreigners and 351 business personalities: Got funds from America, Canada, LLC, Bristol Services, Abraaj Group, Arif Naqvi, Romita Shetty, IPI and USI: It owned only 8 accounts, concealed 16 and disowned 13: Commission issues show cause notice to PTI, demands explanation: Says concealing 16 accounts violation of Article 17 (3) of Constitution: Recommends action under law and confiscation of funds if party fails to submit satisfactory reply in case

By: News Desk
Published: 09:42 AM, 2 Aug, 2022
Imran Khan, PTI clean-bowled by ECP verdict in prohibited funding case
Caption: Representational image.
Stay tuned with 24 News HD Android App
Get it on Google Play

The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday in its unanimous decision declared that the Pakistan Tehreek-insaf got prohibited funding from 34 foreigners including the LLC, America, reported 24NewsHD TV channel. 

In its 70-page verdict announced today and read out by the chief election commissioner, the ECP declared that the PTI received funds from 34 foreigners and 351 business personalities. The PTI owned only eight bank accounts, concealed 16 and disowned 13 accounts

The case of prohibited funding has been proved against the PTI, the commission said adding that PTI Chairman Imran Khan had submitted a misdeclaration to the ECP. The commission issued a show cause notice to the PTI demanding an explanation from the PTI chief regarding prohibited funding. 

The ECP declared that the PTI willing got funds from America, Canada, LLC, Bristol Services, Abraaj group, Arif Naqvi, Romita Shetty, IPI and USI. The commission said that concealing 16 accounts was a violation of Article 17. 

The ECP recommended that if the PTI failed to give a satisfactory reply in the prohibited funding case, then an action under the law could be initiated against the party and its prohibited funds could be confiscated. 

A three-member bench of the Election Commission headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and comprising Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Muhammad Jatoi conducted the hearing.

According to the ECP verdict:

a) “PTI Pakistan knowingly and willfully received donations from Wootton Cricket Limited registered in Cayman Island which was operated and owned by a business tycoon Mr. Ant Masood Naqvi the owner of Abraaj Group. The Respondent party was willing recipient of prohibited money of US$ 2,121,500. 

b) PTI Pakistan knowingly and willfully received donations from Bristol Engineering services UAE based company, an amount of US$ 49,965/- transferred into its accounts in Pakistan which are hit by prohibition in violation of Pakistani Laws 

c) PTI Pakistan knowingly and willfully received donations from E-Planet Trustees a Cayman island Pvt registered company trust, based in Zurich Switzerland, and SS Marketing, Manchester a UK based Pvt. Company. From both the companies an amount of US$ 101,741/- transferred into its accounts in Pakistan which are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani Laws 

d) PTI Pakistan knowingly and willfully received donations through PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975 US$ 2,525,500/-.From both the companies the amounts received into its accounts of PTI Pakistan are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani Laws. 

e) PTI Pakistan knowingly and willfully received donations through PTI Canada Corporation and PTI UK Public Ltd Company an amount of US $ 279,822/- and GBP £ 792,265/- respectively. Similarly, an amount of PKR 3,581,186/- was also donated by PTI Canada Corporation to PTI Pakistan. From both the companies the amounts received into its accounts of PTI Pakistan are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani Laws 

f) PTI Pakistan knowingly and willfully received donations from Dunpec Pty Ltd an Australia based company and from Anwar Brothers, Zain Cotton and Young Sports.”

g) PTI through its submission before the Commission has accepted ownership of only eight (08) accounts while it declared 13 accounts under the category of Unknown accounts and do not pertain to PTI accounts.

The data obtained from SBP reveals that all the 13 accounts disowned by PTI were opened and operated by senior PTI management and leadership at the Central and Provincial levels. In this regard, it is further added that PTI failed to mention and disclose three accounts that were also being operated by the senior leadership of the Party. Non-disclosure and concealment of 16 bank accounts by PTI is a serious reporting lapse on the part of PTI leadership and in violation of Article 17 (3) of the Constitution of Pakistan

h) The Chairman of PTI for the financial year 2008-09 to 2012-13 (Five Years) has submitted Form-I which was found to be grossly inaccurate on the basis of the financial statements obtained by this Commission from SBP and other material available on record.

Therefore, in view of the material available on the record and above discussion, the matter falls within the ambit of Article 6 (3) of PPO, 2002

Hence, the Commission directs that a notice may be issued to the Respondent party in terms of Rule-6 of PPR 2002, as to why the aforementioned prohibited funds may not be confiscated. The office is also directed to initiate any other action under the law, in the light of this order of the Commission.”

READ ECP'S FULL VERDICT HERE.  

The ECP reserved its judgement in the case on June 21 but deferred its release till today in the 8-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf prohibited funding case.. 

The case was earlier referred to as ‘foreign funding case’ but later on the request of the PTI, the Election Commission referred to it as a ‘prohibited funding case’. 

The decision to announce the verdict comes after a Financial Times exposé revealed that the PTI received funding from Wootton Cricket Club belonging to Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi. The funds were generated through a charity match and an Arab personality also pitched in a large sum of money. According to the FT, funds collected from foreign companies and individuals through charity cricket matches were eventually funnelled to the PTI under the Abraaj chief’s watchful eye.

Rangers were deployed outside the office of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as part of the strict security arrangements before announcing the judgement in the prohibited foreign funding case against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The foreign funding case against the PTI and its Chairman Imran Khan was filed in the ECP by Akbar S Babar, the founder member of the party on Nov 14, 2014. 

Akbar who has been dissociated from the party now, had alleged serious financial irregularities in PTI’s domestic and international collection of funding. 

The ECP constituted a scrutiny committee to examine the PTI’s funding in March 2018 which held 95 meetings in which the PTI filed four petitions against the petitioner’s presence on the committee.

The committee submitted its report on Jan 4, 2022 saying that irregularities were found in the audit reports submitted by the PTI.

During the eight years of proceedings, the PTI sought 30 adjournments, and it also filed petitions six times for the case to be inadmissible or beyond the ECP’s jurisdiction.

The ECP directed the PTI to provide documents and financial records 21 times while the PTI changed nine lawyers throughout the proceedings.

The report, based on eight volumes of record requisitioned through the State Bank of Pakistan, proved that the PTI leadership had committed gross violations of funding laws by allowing the collection of millions of dollars and billions of rupees without any source and details from foreigners, including Indian nationals and foreign companies.

The report confirmed that the PTI received funding from foreign nationals and companies, under-reported funds and concealed dozens of its bank accounts.

It also mentioned a refusal by the party to divulge details of large transactions and the panel’s helplessness to get details of PTI’s foreign accounts and the funds collected abroad.

It further called into question the certificate, signed by PTI chairperson Imran Khan, submitted along with the details of PTI’s audited accounts.

In its report submitted to the election watchdog on Jan 4, the committee said, “as per the opinion of the Chartered Accountant Firms, the statement of Account fairly presents, in all material respects [sic], the cash receipt of PTI for each year mentioned in the table above [present in the report], on the basis of accounting described by the firm in its audit report. However, during the course scrutiny, the committee observed deviations in figures as the same do not reconcile with the bank statements."

“[The] PTI changed its Chartered Accountant Firm in last year and employed the same firm which had issued the certificate in the first year of the above table. However, as reported the same text of audit report was issued to [the PTI] Central Executive Committee (CEC),” the report added.

According to the report, the party under-reported an amount of Rs312 million over a four-year period, between FY2009-10 and FY2012-13. Year-wise details show that an amount of over Rs145m was under-reported in FY2012-13 alone.

The report also referred to the controversy over allowing four PTI employees to receive donations in their personal accounts, but said it was out of the scope of its work to probe their accounts.

Reporter: Usman Khan