‘PTI concealed its bank accounts’

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ISLAMABAD: The scrutiny committee, constituted by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), said in its analysis that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) disclosed only 12 bank accounts in the foreign funding case, and concealed 53 other bank accounts.

The report said no date had been mentioned on the audit reports of 2012 and 2013 and the receipts provided by the audit firms did not match with the bank accounts. It said the audit report without date on it was against the accounting standards. The report said the audit statement had been sent to the PTI central executive committee for approval.

The accounts details of the PTI provided by an American institute Fora LLC were also a part of the report. The report said the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) revealed that the PTI had 65 bank accounts.

In years 2008-9 and 2012-13, the party showed funds amounting to Rs1.33 billion while in reality it received funds totalling Rs1.64 billion. So the report found an anomaly of Rs310 million, declaring that the PTI provided wrong information to the ECP regarding public donations.

The report said the PTI disclosed only 12 accounts, out of 77, hiding an amount of Rs310 million. The party hid two bank accounts in 2008-09. It also did not give access to the party accounts in Canada and New Zealand.

The details of undisclosed funds came to the fore after analysing the information provided by the SBP. The scrutiny committee was formed in 2019 to audit foreign funding received by the PTI.

The case began in 2014 when the party’s founding member, Akbar S Babar, filed it. However, the scrutiny committee failed to give its opinion about sources of funds transferred to

the bank accounts of PTI from 2008 to 2013. The official data showed that when the scrutiny committee was constituted by the ECP in March 2019, it was clearly directed to give its opinion about sources of funds given to the PTI. But, surprisingly, the committee, in its report, presented a lame excuse that despite repeated efforts, the PTI never provided sources of funds; so it was not able to make any opinion in that regard.

The scrutiny committee had the authority to direct the PTI to provide sources of funds but, apparently, it never tried to exercise its powers in the last three years.

The report submitted by the scrutiny committee also revealed that the PTI concealed much of the amounts received as donations or contributions in financial year 2012-13 around general elections that stood at Rs145.098 million.

According to the report, as per Form-I submitted by the PTI, it received Rs1.054 billion in financial year 2012-13 through four bank accounts including KASB Bank Blue Area Islamabad, Habib Bank Limited (HBL) Civic Centre Islamabad, United Bank Limited (UBL) Jinnah Avenue Islamabad and KASB Bank Gulberg Lahore.

The report revealed the data compiled by the SBP showed that the PTI received donations and contributions worth Rs1.199 billion through 18 bank accounts.

The report revealed that the PTI not only concealed its 14 bank accounts but also never declared amount worth Rs145.098 million in financial year 2012-13.

It stated that from 2008-2009 to 2012-2013, the PTI submitted annual declarations (Form-I) to the ECP and made disclosure of donations and contributions for an amount of Rs1.332 billion. Whereas an analysis of bank statement obtained through the SBP revealed that an amount of Rs1.642 billion was credited to the PTI accounts during the ‘Scope Period’.

The report presented by the SBP had been made part of the report of the scrutiny committee that helped reveal the details of transfer of funds into these accounts.

The SBP report showed 26 accounts of PTI including Bank Islami KASB Bank (six accounts), HBL (11 accounts), UBL (two accounts), Muslim Commercial Bank (MCB) (four accounts) and one each of National Bank of Pakistan, Bank of Khyber and Bank of Punjab. The PTI showed only six out of these 26 accounts in its annual declaration.

The PTI counsel, during the hearing on Tuesday, requested for keeping the report secret, but a member of the ECP said: “This is not an in-camera session”. The commission also ordered for providing copy o the report to all stakeholders.

Today, in a Twitter post, Akbar S Babar thanked Allah, saying he stands “vindicated”.

Meanwhile, in a post-cabinet meeting press conference, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said that according to the report “there is no question of foreign funding”, as he demanded scrutiny of the accounts of the PMLN, PPP and all other political parties also.

“The report [of the ECP scrutiny committee] does not point towards foreign funding […] it has been decided that there is no case of foreign funding,” the information minister said.

Saying that all allegations regarding PTI foreign funding had proven wrong, he demanded the election commission put the facts of the case before the nation, so the people could themselves analyse which party was raising funds through which means.

Separately, Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said the PTI had the “most transparent” process of receiving funds as everything was documented.

Talking to the media outside the ECP office in Islamabad, the minister said scrutinising bank accounts related to foreign funding of political parties was the ECP’s job.

However, he stressed that the commission must do its work in the most transparent and impartial way.

“If ECP accomplishes its work transparently and impartially, it would have a very positive impact on Pakistan’s politics,” he said.

The federal minister said scrutiny committees for bank accounts of PPP and PMLN had also been formed, and the ECP should also review reports prepared for those parties’ bank accounts.

“There are a large number of secret accounts of the PPP and PMLN in addition to other accounts opened in the names of fake persons,” the federal minister said.

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Farrukh Habib also asked the ECP to direct its scrutiny committee to seek submission of audit reports of bank accounts relating to foreign funding of different political parties including PPP and PMLN. He said the scrutiny committee formed in the PPP and PMLN cases were identical to the body constituted to audit bank accounts of ruling party.

Farrukh said the reports of the scrutiny committees for the bank accounts of the PPP and PMLN had been completed.

Therefore, directions should be made to make them submit reports before national election watchdog at the earliest, he added.

The cases of all three parties including PTI, PMLN and PPP were of “same nature”, he said, adding the scrutiny committees were formed in the light of the apex court’s decision which stated that all the parties’ bank accounts would be scrutinised in accordance with the law and without any discrimination.

He said the ECP should hear the cases pertaining to all three parties’ accounts as it was imperative for implementation of the court orders.

“We have no objection if the ECP hears all three parties’ accounts cases in open court,” he said, adding the PTI fully believed in transparency.

He said the facts about concealment of multiple bank accounts by the PPP and PMLN should be made public.

On the other hand, the opposition berated Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party after the ECP scrutiny committee reported that the party did not disclose millions of rupees worth of funds to the constitutional body.

Lashing out at the premier, PMLN Vice-President Maryam Nawaz said Imran Khan had not only “stolen and hidden money, but also plundered people”.

She said the “constant leaks, revelations, and evidence, are more than enough to bring down the PTI government.

“No other party in history has been behind such serious fraud and scandals,” she claimed.

“Has there been such a corrupt, liar, and conspiratorial ruler like Imran Khan in the history of Pakistan?” she asked.

PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal held a media briefing outside the ECP office in Islamabad earlier in the day. He said the scrutiny committee’s report had “washed away Imran Khan’s make-up of honesty”.

“Imran Khan acts as the champion of transparency in the country, but in the foreign funding case, he is making lame excuses to stop the hearing; PTI is resorting to mudslinging to cover its own theft,” he said.

Neither has PTI submitted a “single piece of evidence” against PML-N nor has the ECP heard any case of illegal funding against the party, he said.

PPP’s Central Information Secretary Shazia Marri, addressing a press conference in Lahore, asked the PTI and PM Imran Khan to provide complete bank account and funding details to the ECP.

“You have given details about 12 accounts, where are the details of the rest of the accounts […] PPP has submitted complete details of its accounts,” she said.

Later, in a tweet, Marri said: “Imran Khan talashi do (give yourself up for examination).”

Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) spokesperson Hafiz Hamdullah, in a statement, said the scrutiny committee’s report “revealed the theft of Imran Khan and PTI”.

“The scrutiny committee has exposed the true face of the PTI before the nation […] Imran Khan and PTI, who accused others of theft, turned out to be thieves themselves,” he said.

The spokesperson said the report has “proven” that PM Imran Khan is “not sadiq and ameen” anymore, as he demanded the premier to disclose the purpose for which the hidden bank accounts were used.



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