Scrutiny body continues probe into PTI funds

Published February 17, 2021
The scrutiny committee met again for a second consecutive day to review the application of Akbar S. Babar seeking action to requisition the accounts of the four PTI employees. — INP/File
The scrutiny committee met again for a second consecutive day to review the application of Akbar S. Babar seeking action to requisition the accounts of the four PTI employees. — INP/File

ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday said before the scrutiny committee of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that no details of funds said to have been received by four PTI employees have been made part of the record submitted before the ECP in the foreign funding case.

The scrutiny committee met again for a second consecutive day to review the application of Akbar S. Babar seeking action to requisition the accounts of the four PTI employees who had been authorised by a six-member PTI finance board to receive donations from Pakistan and abroad.

The decision to allow the PTI employees to collect the funds was taken at a meeting held on July 1, 2011. It was attended by Saifullah Niazi, the incumbent chief organiser and an aspirant of a PTI Senate ticket; Aamer Mahmud Kiani, at present secretary general and former health minister who was removed from the federal cabinet; Dr Humayun Mohmand, who was recently appointed chairman of the board of directors of PIMS; Sardar Azhar Tariq Khan, the party’s former finance secretary and now Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan; retired colonel Yunus Ali Raza and Tariq R. Sheikh.

PTI finance secretary Siraj Ahmad had confirmed that a ‘one-time’ authorisation had been given to the four employees by the party’s finance board, but claimed that the amount received from the United Arab Emirates through Western Union in their private accounts ultimately went to the party account.

Tuesday’s proceedings, however, showed it was not so, as the document submitted with the ECP had no mention of funds received from the UAE.

Counsel for the PTI Shah Khawar said that no details of funds received by the party employees either in cash or through cheques had been made part of the record submitted before the ECP.

The petitioner’s lawyer Badar Iqbal Chaudhry read out the PTI central finance secretary’s statement that accepted funds transferred to private bank accounts of PTI employees through money changer from the UAE.

He said the PTI central finance secretary had yet to disown his statement while the PTI written response before the scrutiny committee disowned his admission of illegal funding.

The counsel for the petitioner once again urged the scrutiny committee to requisition the personal bank accounts of the four PTI employees designated to receive donations from Pakistan and abroad. “This is only way forward for the committee to ascertain the scale and scope of illegal funding,” he said.

The committee was informed that without placing all the PTI bank statements within and outside Pakistan, the scrutiny process would remain incomplete and without credence.

So far, not a single PTI bank statement out of the six international accounts identified and accepted by the PTI had been placed before the ECP’s scrutiny committee.

Sources said there was an interesting discussion when the special audit authorised on the written sanction of the PTI Chairman and now Prime Minister Imran Khan in March 2013 was again discussed. The committee was informed that the PTI disowned its own audit and yet it continued to quote the audit whenever finding it appropriate. The audit report had validated all the allegations of the petitioner including the front accounts of PTI employees illegally used for fund raising.

The committee later adjourned the proceedings without announcing the next date. It also decided to postpone decision on whether or not it would requisition personal bank accounts of four PTI employees.

Later, talking to reporters, Mr Babar demanded that the scrutiny committee investigate the PTI employees’ bank accounts which were illegally used as a front to collect donations. When the PTI central finance secretary, too, had admitted to front accounts and receipt of donations, there was no reason to further delay full and unfettered investigations of the accounts, the petitioner said.

Mr Babar said the ruling PTI continued to resist sharing the bank statements of its international bank accounts. “No audit is complete without putting all the national and international bank accounts statements on the table,” he said. So far, he added, the scrutiny committee had chosen to keep 23 PTI bank statements of through the SBP secret and made no effort to requisition the PTI international bank statements.

He told the media that this must be the only audit of its kind where bank statements were either kept secret or not requisitioned by a body entrusted to conduct scrutiny.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2021

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