ECP reserves verdict on PTI's applications for secrecy in scrutiny of foreign funding case

Published October 1, 2019
The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday reserved its verdict on four applications by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) seeking secrecy in the scrutiny of its foreign funding case. — AFP/File
The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday reserved its verdict on four applications by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) seeking secrecy in the scrutiny of its foreign funding case. — AFP/File

The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday reserved its verdict on four applications by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) seeking secrecy in the scrutiny of its foreign funding case.

Former PTI member and petitioner Akbar S. Babar had filed the foreign funding case before the ECP in 2014, alleging that nearly $3 million in illegal foreign funds were collected through two offshore companies, and that money was sent through illegal 'hundi' channels from the Middle East to accounts of PTI employees.

He has also alleged that the foreign accounts used to collect funds were concealed from the annual audit reports submitted to the ECP.

In today's proceedings, Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza said that the PTI had submitted four new miscellaneous applications to the committee, adding that they "just wanted to increase the burden of work". He said that the investigative committee had forwarded the applications to him so that he could make a decision.

According to PTI's counsel, in all four applications, they had demanded that the leakage of information should be stopped, in response to which the chief election commissioner inquired what the committee had to do with information being shared on media.

Saqlain Haider, PTI Finance Secretary Sardar Azhar Tariq Khan's counsel, said that PTI's information was being leaked and their secrecy was not being maintained. He said that incorrect news regarding the committee was being run with the purpose of maligning the political party, putting the blame on the petitioner.

The chief election commissioner inquired as to what had happened in five and a half years that PTI’s founding member Babar was now being accused of malice.

Babar's lawyer Ahmed Hassan said that the State Bank of Pakistan had told the scrutiny committee about 23 accounts which received party funding.

According to Hassan, people within the party had leaked information to the television reports they were mentioning. He alleged that the party was using information being leaked as an excuse and running away [from the case].

The bench reserved the verdict, which will be announced on October 10.

Foreign Funding Case

Dissident founding member of the PTI and petitioner Babar, had filed the foreign funding case before the ECP in 2014 after he developed differences with PTI Chairman Imran Khan over internal corruption and abuse of laws governing political funding.

The petitioner had alleged that nearly $3 million in illegal foreign funds were collected through two offshore companies, registered under Imran’s signature, and that money was sent through illegal 'hundi' channels from the Middle East to accounts of PTI employees. He also alleged that the foreign accounts used to collect funds were concealed from the annual audit reports submitted to the ECP.

For over a year, the proceedings of the case were delayed in the ECP as the PTI had filed a writ petition in October 2015 in the Islamabad High Court seeking to restrain the ECP scrutiny of its accounts.

In February 2017, the IHC remanded the case back to the ECP for a fresh review of its jurisdiction. On May 8 of the same year, a full bench of the ECP once again expressed its complete jurisdiction over the case and stated that the PTI had failed to produce any evidence that the petitioner had been expelled from the party and hence lost the right to question PTI accounts.

In March 2018, a scrutiny committee was formed to look into PTI foreign funding accounts.

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