- Election commission says party kept 13 bank accounts hidden, issues show-cause notice to PTI
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced on Tuesday its verdict on the prohibited funding case against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
A three-member bench led by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja announced the judgment. In its verdict, the ECP said that PTI did indeed receive prohibited funding and kept 13 bank accounts hidden.
"The data obtained from SBP reveals that all the 13 accounts disowned by PTI were opened and operated by the 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 which were also being operated by the senior leadership of the party," the verdict read.
The verdict said that hiding accounts is a "violation" of Article 17 of the Constitution. As per the said article “Every political party shall account for the source of its funds in accordance with law”.
The ECP found that donations were taken from America, Australia, Canada and the UAE. As per the verdict, PTI "knowingly and willfully” received funding from Wootton Cricket Limited, operated by business tycoon Arif Naqvi.
The party also received donations through PTI Canada Corporation and PTI UK Public Limited Company, the verdict read.
The ECP also issued a show-cause notice to PTI. The commission also said that PTI chief Imran Khan had submitted a “mis-declaration” with the commission.
Following the decision, Akbar S. Babar, a founding member of the PTI and its former vice president, who filed the petition, took to Twitter and said that after eight years, Imran's corruption and money laundering was exposed before the nation.
"Imran Khan is not righteous and Amin but thief and corrupt," he said.
In a press conference after the verdict, PTI’s Fawad Chaudhry said that most of the money was from overseas Pakistanis, adding that PTI considers them to be the backbone of the country's economy and will continue to rely on them for its funding.
He further said that this was never a case of “foreign funding” and this had been proven with the ECP’s judgment. Fawad said that the accounts that were supposedly undeclared were not directly linked with Imran Khan.
Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that the ECP's decision has proven yet again that Imran is a "certified liar".
"Nation should ponder over the implications of his politics funded by foreigners," he tweeted.
Earlier, the ECP had reserved its judgment in the case on June 21. The case was first referred to as the "foreign funding" case. However, later it was referred to as the "prohibited funding" case after the election commission accepted PTI's plea.
Ahead of the decision, security in Islamabad’s ‘Red Zone’ was put on high alert with 1,000 police personnel deployed in the area.
On Monday, the ECP released the cause list for the 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.
For weeks, the coalition government urged the ECP to immediately announce its reserved verdict in the foreign funding case against the PTI. A delegation of the ruling alliance also held a meeting with representatives of the ECP and urged them to immediately release the verdict.
In its defence, PTI leadership maintained that the party fully cooperated with the Scrutiny Committee that investigated the case — having submitted the record of 40,000 donors and 16 volumes containing detailed evidence of overseas contributions and donations.
Moreover, PTI repeatedly asked the ECP to ensure the completion of a probe by the Scrutiny Committee related to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) - and decide together on the cases of PTI and these political parties in a prohibited funding case.
The prohibited funding case was first filed in November 2014 by Akbar S. Babar, accused the PTI and its leadership of corruption and illegal funding of the party. In February 2017, the IHC remanded the case back to the ECP for a fresh review of its jurisdiction.