ISLAMABAD: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has explained that it had advised all banks to provide information about bank accounts of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Clarifying a news item headlined “PTI operating 18 undeclared bank accounts: SBP report” published in Dawn, the State Bank’s chief spokesman said on Thursday that the ECP had in July last year approached the SBP for assistance in obtaining information about PTI’s bank accounts from 2009 to 2013 as per the commission’s mandate enshrined in the Constitution and the Elections Act, 2017.
“SBP while discharging of its duties advised all banks to provide the required information/data directly to ECP by due date, as per procedure laid down under the law,” the clarification said, denying issuance of any report relating to the PTI’s bank accounts to the ECP.
“SBP neither maintains the database of banks’ individual accountholders nor possesses any related information/record thereof. Banks being the custodian of customers’ information may directly provide this information to various agencies, on case-to-case basis, as per procedure laid down under the respective laws. Therefore, it is out of question that SBP has reported 18 undeclared bank accounts of PTI out of total 26 to the ECP,” it added.
Informed sources confirmed that the data, which revealed that the PTI was operating 18 undeclared bank accounts, had directly been provided by the scheduled banks to the ECP on the advice of the State Bank.
According to documents available with Dawn, the ECP director general (law), who heads the commission’s scrutiny committee mandated to examine the allegations of receipt of funding by the PTI from prohibited sources, had written a letter to the State Bank governor on July 3, 2018, seeking assistance from the SBP in obtaining information related to PTI’s bank accounts.
The information sought included list of bank accounts maintained by the PTI anywhere in Pakistan from 2009 to 2013, with data-wise details of transactions, country-wise list of all funds transferred to the PTI accounts from abroad during the period separately for each financial year, including particulars of remitters, and monthly bank statements of all the accounts for each financial year (2009-2013).
Subsequently, the State Bank had on July 12, 2018 written letters to the presidents/chief executives of all banks with copy of the letter. “….You are advised to provide the requisite information directly to the Election Commission of Pakistan before July, 16, 2018 positively under intimation to the State Bank of Pakistan. In case of non-existence of PTI account with your bank, a NIL position may kindly be reported to the Commission,” the SBP letter read.
Credible sources insist that the data showed the PTI was operating 26 bank accounts across the country, but only eight of them had been declared before the ECP.
Former ECP secretary Kanwar Dishad, while talking to Dawn, said it was irrelevant if the SBP had provided information about PTI’s bank accounts directly to the ECP or the data had been generated from the banks on its directives. He said the ECP enjoyed the powers to take back the symbol of any political party found to have been involved in concealing its funding and bank account details.
Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2019