The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has booked former prime minister Imran Khan and other PTI leaders in connection with their party allegedly received prohibited funding, it emerged on Tuesday.

The case was filed by the state through FIA's Corporate Banking Circle in Islamabad. The first information report (FIR), a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, stated that Arif Masood Naqvi — the owner of the Wooton Cricket Limited — transferred "ill-gotten" money to a United Bank Limited (UBL) account registered under the name of the PTI.

"The purpose stated in the swift messages of the transactions is 'agreed transfer' to disguise the true nature, origin, location, movement and ownership of these funds. Arif Masood Naqvi is also the founder/owner of Abraaj Group, UAE, which collapsed in 2018. Arif Masood Naqvi lied about the performance of Abraaj's funds by inflating their value," the complaint added.

"Therefore, Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) imposed penalties on two Abraaj Group companies for carrying out un-authorised activities in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and misusing investors' money. The regulator imposed penalties amounting to $299.30 million on Abraaj Investment Management Limited and Abraaj Capital respectively."

It further said that Naqvi was also facing trials in the United Kingdom and the United States for defrauding investors.

The complaint named Imran Khan, Sardar Azhar Tariq Khan, Saifullah Khan Nyazee, Syed Yunus Ali Raza, Aamer Mehmood Kiani, Tariq Rahim Sheikh, Tariq Shafi, Faisal Maqbool Shaikh, Hamid Zaman and Manzoor Ahmad Chaudhary as signatories/beneficiaries of the PTI account in question.

"PTI submitted an affidavit of Arif Masood Naqvi before the Election Commission of Pakistan stating therein that all the amounts collected in the accounts of WCL were submitted into PTI's account in Pakistan. This affidavit has been proved to be false/forged as two more transactions were also made from WCL to two different accounts in Pakistan in May 2013."

The FIR further said that 12 CTRs/STRs had to be reported by the UBL management to the authorities but they failed to do so. "Chaudhary Shahid Bashir, the operation manager of UBL's Jinnah Avenue branch in Islamabad, facilitated these suspicious/illegal transactions by not reporting the aforesaid illegalities to the concerned authorities and also allowed Internet Merchant Acquiring Agreement changing the title of the account to Naya Pakistan".

Subsequently, the FIA said a case under sections 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document), 477-A (falsification of accounts) and 109 (punishment of abetment if the Act abetted committed In consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment) of the Pakistan Penal code has been registered against Imran, his party leaders and the management of UBL.

They have also been booked under Section 23 (penalty and procedure) of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947.

The FIR comes days after the FIA took Saifullah Nyazee and Amir Zaman into protective custody for interrogation in the case triggering several condemnations from the party.

The prohibited funding case

Last month, the ECP had issued its verdict in the prohibited funding case — previously referred to as the foreign funding case — against the PTI, which stated that the party did indeed receive prohibited funding.

A three-member ECP bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikander (CEC) Sultan Raja had announced the verdict in a case filed by PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar which had been pending since November 14, 2014.

In the verdict, the commission noted that the party “knowingly and willfully” received funding from Wootton Cricket Limited, operated by business tycoon Arif Naqvi. The party was a “willing recipient” of prohibited money of $2,121,500, it said.

The ECP said that the party “knowingly and willfully” also received donations from Bristol Engineering Services (a UAE-based company), E-Planet Trustees (a Cayman Islands private registered company), SS Marketing Manchester (a UK-based private company), PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975 which were “hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws”.

It went on to say that the party also received donations through PTI Canada Corporation and PTI UK Public Limited Company. “From both the companies, the amounts received into its accounts of PTI Pakistan are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws.

“PTI Pakistan, through fundraising campaigns by PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975, was a recipient of donations from 34 foreign nationals and 351 foreign-based companies. Collection of donations and contributions from foreign nationals and companies are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws,” it said.

The electoral watchdog also said that the PTI had been found to be a beneficiary of donations made by Romita Shetty, a US-based business woman of Indian-origin which was in violation of the law.

The ECP said the party had only owned eight accounts before the commission and declared 13 accounts to be unknown. “The data obtained from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reveals that all the 13 accounts disowned by the PTI were opened and operated by senior PTI management and leadership at [a] central and provincial level.”

The commission noted that the party also failed to mention three accounts which were also being operated by the party’s senior leadership. Non-disclosure and concealment of 16 bank accounts by the PTI is a “serious lapse” on part of the PTI’s leadership and in violation of Article 17(3) of the Constitution, it said.

Article 17(3) says: “Every political party shall account for the source of its funds in accordance with the law.”

The PTI chairman submitted Form-I for five years (between 2008-2013) which was found to be “grossly inaccurate on the basis of the financial statements obtained by this commission from SBP and other material available on record”.

“Therefore […] the matter falls within the ambit of Article 6(3) of Political Parties Order 2002 (PPO). Hence , the commission directs that a notice may be issued to the respondent party in terms of Rule 6 of the PPO as to why the aforementioned prohibited funds may not be confiscated. The office is also directed to initiate any other action under the law in light of this order of the commission, including forwarding the case to the federal government.”

Article 6(3) of the PPO states: “Any contribution made, directly or indirectly, by any foreign government, multinational or domestically incorporated public or private company, firm, trade or professional association shall be prohibited and the parties may accept contributions and donations only from individuals.”

In its order, the commission also said that it was “constrained to hold that Imran Khan failed to discharge his obligations as mandated under the Pakistani statutes.”

“Imran Khan, for the five years under review, has filed submissions that were grossly inaccurate and wrong. Even during the course of scrutiny and hearing by this commission, the PTI continued to conceal and withhold complete and full disclosure of [the] source of its funds,” it added.

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