Foreign Funding Case: A Ticking Time Bomb For PTI

Foreign Funding Case: A Ticking Time Bomb For PTI
Imad Zafar writes about PTI's foreign funding case and shares a brief history of the delaying tactics that have been used by the ruling party to prolong the case.

The foreign funding case against the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has been pending in the courts for the last five years. The case was filed by Akbar S Babar, one of the founding members of PTI. Babar filed the case with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on November 14, 2014, and alleged that the PTI received funds from foreign companies and foreign nationals through undeclared accounts. According to the constitution of Pakistan, political parties are prohibited from taking donations from foreign-registered companies and non-Pakistani citizens. Babar in his petition also accused PTI of money-laundering and embezzlement of funds given by party supporters.

The Pakistan Election Laws (Volume 1) state in this context: “The contribution made by members or supporters of any party shall be duly recorded by the political parties. Any contribution made, directly or indirectly, by any foreign government, multinational or domestically incorporated public or private company, firm, trade or professional association shall be prohibited and the parties may accept contributions and donations only from individuals. Any contribution or donation which is prohibited under this Order shall be confiscated to the State in the manner as may be prescribed."

Section 13, pertaining to information about the sources of a party’s funds, states:

“Every political party shall, in such manner and in such form as may be prescribed or specified by the Chief Election Commissioner, submit to the Election Commission, within 60 days from the close of each financial year, a consolidated statement of accounts of the party audited by a Chartered Accountant containing – (a) annual income and expenses; (b) sources of its funds; and (c) Assets and Liabilities etc.”

PTI has been using delaying tactics to prolong the case in the courts. Babar maintains that in 2011 when PTI did an internal audit of its accounts, the final report said that the party had been provided illegal funding, but Imran Khan never made the report available to the public. Meanwhile, PTI has denied all of Babar's allegations and maintains that he has personal enmity with Imran Khan, and that is why he is leveling false accusations against the party.

However, the fact remains that it has been PTI that has been using delaying tactics in the case. PTI has repeatedly asked the ECP and Islamabad High Court (IHC) to maintain secrecy and not make the proceedings of the case public.

Just a few months ago, the State Bank of Pakistan, on the instructions of the ECP, provided a list of 18 PTI accounts that had not been declared before the commission previously. All political parties in Pakistan must submit the details of all of their accounts.

This foreign-funding case is very serious and if found guilty, PTI and Imran Khan could both be banned from politics for life.

The way the proceedings of this case have been delayed intentionally by PTI and how many discrepancies and offshore companies allegedly funding PTI have been found is very interesting. Here is a brief history of the discrepancies allegedly found.

A brief timeline of the foreign funding case

November 14, 2014: Petition filed before the ECP based on evidence of illegal funding, money-laundering, and corruption. The petition demands that the ECP take all those in PTI leadership responsible, from party chairman Imran Khan to others in the Finance Board, to task per the law for gross violations of political funding laws.

November 18, 2014: Petitioner Akbar S Babar received a death threat from a PTI member, personally close to Imran Khan, and was told to back off from the legal course.

November 21, 2014: Babar sent a letter to the federal interior secretary demanding an investigation of the death threats made on midnight of November 18, 2014, and requested to be provided with security.

April 1, 2015: The ECP passed an order explicitly stating that PTI annual audit reports submitted before the commission did not include details and sources of funds, a requirement under the law.

October 8, 2015: ECP rejected PTI objections on maintainability of the petition and jurisdiction of the ECP to hear the case and ordered scrutiny of records on November 10, 2015.

November 26, 2015: PTI filed a writ petition in Islamabad High Court challenging ECP jurisdiction and the PTI's membership of Akbar S Babar.

February 17, 2017: Case sent back to the ECP after a delay of a year and a half after reasserting ECP’s jurisdiction and rejecting the petition challenging PTI membership of Akbar S Babar.

May 8, 2017: The ECP again stated that there was not an iota of evidence to support the claim that Akbar S Babar had been expelled from PTI.

Since November 2014, PTI has filed five writ petitions in the IHC challenging ECP's jurisdiction to scrutinize PTI accounts and the PTI membership of Akbar S Babar. In one petition, PTI demanded that the scrutiny be conducted in-camera. In another petition filed on November 26, 2015, Imran Khan stated in an affidavit that he was not answerable to ordinary citizens of Pakistan for scrutiny of accounts. The latest verdict of the IHC announced on July 24, 2018, rejected Khan’s plea that Babar was not a member of PTI. All PTI petitions to stop or suspend ECP scrutiny of its accounts under one pretext or another have been rejected by the ECP and the IHC.

Also, since November 2014, PTI has refused to comply with more than 24 written ECP orders, demanding production of documents, including PTI bank statements of accounts maintained in Pakistan and abroad. In March 2018, the ECP constituted a scrutiny committee headed by the commission's Director-General Law and two auditors (DG Audit Defense Services and Controller Accounts Pakistan Air Force) to scrutinize PTI accounts. PTI once again refused to produce financial documents, including bank statements, despite more than two dozen meetings of the committee.

On July 3, 2018, the ECP asked the State Bank of Pakistan to produce PTI financial records for the period 2009-2013. The SBP complied by writing letters to all scheduled bank presidents demanding that PTI bank statements be submitted to the ECP by July 16, 2018.

The scrutiny was stalled after an initial examination of PTI bank statements revealed 23 bank accounts all over Pakistan operated by PTI leadership as against a total of eight declared before the ECP. These accounts have been used for transactions worth billions of rupees in both Pakistani rupees and foreign currencies, all illegal.

Evidence shared by Akbar S Babar with the ECP:

According to Akbar S Babar, there are two companies registered in the US under the signatures of PTI chairman Imran Khan for illegal funding from the United States:

  1. PTI USA LLC No. 5975 – USD 1,998,700

  2. PTI USA LLC No. 6160 – USD 669,000

Babar claims that another company is registered in Australia with the title Insaf Australia Inc. under Australian Business Number 45838549859 from the ANZ Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited with the - Bank Account Number 00102012397479527102.

As per Babar the total amount collected and remitted to Pakistan is still to be determined by the scrutiny committee of ECP. Babar claims he has shared ample evidence with the ECP proving a transaction of AUD 35,200 from this company.

If Babar’s claims are true then all the money received from the internationally incorporated companies, such as PTI USA LLC and Insaf Australia Incorporated is illegal under law.

Babar also claims to have submitted the proof of illegal funding from UK to the accounts of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. As per Babar, Aneel Mussarat and Sahibzada Jahangir are accused of illegally transferring funds to PTI bank accounts through PTI UK – Registered Number 07381036.

He maintains that at least two UK based accounts functional in the name of PTI at Lloyds Bank (Sort Code 30-92-90), used to transmit millions of UK pounds not disclosed with ECP. The accounts are:

  1. Account Number 00191424

  2. Account Number 26675768.

Illegal Funding From Denmark:

Babar has told this correspondent that sample evidence of DKK 249,669 are submitted in the ECO. Babar has also said that there has been a great deal of illegal funding from Middle East including from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain.

According to Babar, Zulqarnain Ali Khan, PTI Coordinator Middle East, now rewarded with the post of Chairman Utility Stores Corporation, is accused of transferring money to PTI. Babar said that Zulqarnain had admitted in the ECP via a video call that he was the leading financier of PTI but no record was found with ECP of the Middle East funding.

According to Babar, Arif Naqvi, Head of Abraaj Group who was arrested in the UK a few months back is also believed to have been sending money to the undisclosed accounts of PTI.

As per Babar’s claim, the following amounts were remitted through Hundi only on account of membership fees documented and shared by Babar with ECP:

Saudi Arabia: 226,240 Saudi Riyals or Rs 8,370,880.
Saudi Arabia: 694,000 Saudi Riyals or Rs 25.6 million annually
UAE: 590,000 AED or Rs 22.42 million per year
Kuwait: USD 6,291 or 2.89 million per year
Qatar: USD 5,940 or Rs 0.80 million per year
Bahrain: USD 918 or Rs 123, 930 per year

Babar claims that he also shared evidence of around Rs 52 million remitted annually through Hundi already shared with ECP.1

The foreign-funding case is a ticking time bomb for PTI and Khan. The party and its chairman have been escaping the consequences because of the support of the powerful quarters. This case has the potential to become the biggest ever scam of a political party involving money laundering, illegal foreign funding, concealment of accounts and assets, and the embezzlement of the party funds.

Editor's note: The author had also shared copies of the documents submitted by Akbar S Babar in the Election Commission of Pakistan but Naya Daur Media has decided to not publish those copies since the matter is still sub judice.

The author is a regular contributor at various newspapers and websites. He has been associated with various TV channels. radio, newspapers, news agencies, political, policy and media related think tanks.