ISLAMABAD: Rejecting the ECP scrutiny committee’s report as flawed and inaccurate, the PTI on Thursday claimed that the panel failed to show full details of the accounts shared with it by the scheduled banks on the instructions of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

Giving final technical arguments before a three-member ECP bench, headed by Chief Election Commi­ssioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, PTI’s financial expert Najmul Saqib Shah claimed that the amounts of bounced cheques had wrongly been reflected in the account statements. He said all the money received from abroad had been deposited in the declared accounts.

Mr Shah explained that the PTI only divulged bank branches where the party’s bank accounts were operated and not the total number of accounts in their annual audit reports before the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Eleven bank accounts disowned by the PTI on March 15, which it owned all along the four years of scrutiny by the ECP committee, were in fact provincial accounts where the money from central accounts was transferred to run the party affairs in the respective provinces.

Claims bounced cheques shown as ‘account deposits’

These accounts first came to light in a written reply submitted to the ECP on March 15. According to page 92 of the scrutiny committee’s report, the PTI revealed only two bank accounts each in the annual audit reports for fiscal years 2008-12 and four for the year 2013. In contrast, SBP’s record revealed that the party concealed five accounts in 2008, seven in 2009, 13 in 2010, 14 in 2011 and 14 in 2012-13.

The PTI had in its written reply disowned the 11 accounts by stating that the accounts “came to the knowledge and information of PTI upon the disclosure of the same by the State Bank of Pakistan” in 2018. The party had claimed that all those who opened, operated and received donations in these accounts did so without authority “as these individuals were not authorised by competent authority for the opening of these bank acco­unts” and that the “bank accounts were operated without the knowledge of the PTI’s finance department”.

When Najmul Saqib Shah concluded his arguments for the day, PTI Lawyer Anwar Mansoor Khan requested the ECP bench to adjourn the matter till the first week of June as he is travelling to Switzerland. Upon the lawyer’s insistence that he must be present while the PTI’s financial expert makes his final arguments, the CEC allowed adjournment until June 1.

Talking to reporters later, the PTI’s founding member and petitioner of the foreign funding case, Akbar S. Babar, wondered if the 11 accounts were opened and operated by the top PTI leaders illegally, why no action had been taken against them.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2022

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