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PTI tried to keep lid on foreign accounts, reveals ECP – Pakistan

• Report claims party under-reported Rs312m funds between 2009 and 2013
• Fawad calls report ‘inaccurate’, claims certain transactions counted twice
• PTI demands public scrutiny, open hearing of ‘identical’ cases against itself, PPP and PML-N

ISLAMABAD: A damning report compiled by the scrutiny committee of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has confirmed that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) received funding from foreign nationals and companies, under-reported funds and concealed dozens of its bank accounts.

The report, a copy of which is available with Dawn, also mentions 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.

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.

“A perusal of the chartered accountant’s opinion on the accounts of PTI for this period does not indicate any deviation from the reporting principles and standards,” the report points out.

It also calls into question the certificate signed by PTI chairman Imran Khan, submitted along with the details of PTI’s audited accounts.

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

The report emerged as the ECP resumed hearing of the foreign funding case against PTI on Tuesday after a gap of around nine months.

The case has been pending since Nov 14, 2014. Since then, the ECP and the Scrutiny Committee has heard the case over 150 times, with PTI seeking adjournment on 54 occasions.

The scrutiny committee was formed in March 2018 to completely scrutinise PTI accounts, but it took almost four years to present its report to the ECP, which was submitted in Dec 2021.

The last hearing took place on April 6, 2021 after which the ECP had directed the petitioner, PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar, to employ two auditors for the perusal of documents submitted by PTI.

A PTI request to keep the scrutiny committee report secret was turned down by ECP, and the next hearing in this matter will be held on Jan 18.

Ministers defend PTI

Following Tuesday’s proceedings at ECP, government ministers came out in support of the ruling party. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry termed the report “inaccurate” and called for a public comparison of all the parties’ foreign funding so people knew where they all stood.

He claimed that there were “two relevant transactions of Rs150m and Rs160m, which had been duplicated and therefore counted twice by the committee”. Referring to the matter of the underreported funds, Fawad said a transaction of Rs160m was counted twice because the party had received money in its central account and transferred it to another.

“In the same way, Rs150m transferred from the centre to the provinces from a PTI subsidiary was also counted twice.” He said these facts would be laid before the ECP during arguments in the case.

The minister said the report showed that the PTI had 26 accounts out of which eight were inactive.

“Out of the remaining 18 accounts, eight are functional and have transactions and also show funds coming in,” he added.

He said that 10 of the accounts in question did not actually belong to the PTI, while six were subsidiary accounts, while the party has distanced itself from the remaining four.

The minister claimed that it was now evident that there was “no question of foreign funding”, adding that Mr Khan had always given a record of every single penny and his party had done the same.

The minister called on the election commission to also conduct a scrutiny of the accounts of the two other major political parties — the PPP and the PML-N. “It is important to have a comparison with the accounts of Nawaz Sharif and the PML-N as well as the PPP,” he added.

“People give $10, $25, $55 or $100,” he said, adding that people trusted Imran Khan ever since he had campaigned for and built the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital.

State Minister for Information Farrukh Habib also said that scrutiny committees formed in PPP and PML-N cases were identical to the body constituted to audit the bank accounts of the ruling party.

Flanked by Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar and PTI leader Aamir Mehmood Kiani, he said the reports of the scrutiny committees for the bank accounts of the PPP and PMLN had been completed and they should also be ordered to submit these reports before the national election watchdog at the earliest.

The state minister was of the view that cases of the PTI, PML-N and PPP were of a similar nature, adding that the scrutiny committees were formed in light of the Supreme Court’s decision which said that all parties’ bank accounts would be scrutinised in accordance with the law and without discrimination.

“We have no objection if the ECP hears all three parties’ cases in open court as PTI fully believes in transparency,” he added.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2022

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