In a setback to Imran Khan, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) unanimously said on Tuesday that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) received illegal funding from 34 foreign individuals and businesses from the US, Canada, Australia and UAE.
In a 3-0 verdict, the ECP said the PTI “willfully’ received prohibited funding from Bristol Services – an UAE-based company and Wootton Cricket Club belonging to Abraaj Group founder Arif Naqvi, according to a GeoTV report.
The ECP’s decision came after a Financial Times exposé that revealed that funds were generated from a charity match and an Arab “personality also pitched a large sum of money”.
The ECP has found 13 unknown accounts linked to the PTI, and has declared Imran Khan’s affidavit in the foreign funding case “false” and issued a show-cause notice to his party. The EC also said hiding accounts is a “violation” of Article 17 of Pakistan’s Constitution.
Article 17 (2) of the Constitution states: “…law shall provide that where the Federal Government declares that any political party has been formed or is operating in a manner prejudicial to the sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan, the Federal Government shall, within fifteen days of such declaration, refer the matter to the Supreme Court whose decision on such reference shall be final."
The Election Commission of Pakistan began investigation into PTI’s funding sources in 2014 when Akbar S Babar, who helped establishing PTI, filed a complaint.
In January, the ECP issued a report which said the PTI had received funding from foreign nationals and companies and accused it of underreporting funds and hiding dozens of bank accounts.
The report also pointed out that Naqvi transferred three instalments directly to PTI in 2013, adding up to a total of $2.12 million. Naqvi reportedly organised charity fundraiser matches in the UK whose money directly went to the PTI, news agency ANI quoted The Nation.
The report also said the fees paid to Wootton Cricket Limited, which is a Cayman Islands-incorporated company owned by Naqvi, was used to fund PTI.
(with inputs from agencies)