False affidavits case: IHC grants Imran protective bail till Oct 18

Published October 12, 2022
<p>PTI chief Imran reaches the Islamabad High Court on Wednesday to seek protective bail in an FIA case. — DawnNewsTV</p>

PTI chief Imran reaches the Islamabad High Court on Wednesday to seek protective bail in an FIA case. — DawnNewsTV

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday granted PTI chief Imran Khan protective bail in a case registered by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against him and other party leaders for allegedly submitting false affidavits to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in connection with a prohibited funding case.

In a written order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the IHC said that the petitioner was granted protective bail against surety bonds worth Rs5,000.

“The petitioner will be at liberty to deposit cash surety in the light of the police of the court. In the meanwhile, the petitioner may approach the court of learned special judge in order to avail remedies provided under the law.”

The order added the PTI chief was granted the exemption “subject to all legal and just exceptions”.

IHC Chief Justice (CJ) Athar Minallah had summoned Imran earlier today, midway through the hearing of his plea for protective bail.

Imran had sought bail after the FIA’s Com­merical Bank Circle in Islam­abad registered a first information report (FIR) against him and other PTI leaders on October 6.

The FIR stated: “[The] PTI submitted an affidavit of [Abraaj founder] Arif Mas­ood Naqvi before the Elec­tion Commi­ssion of Pakistan stating the­rein that all the amounts collected in the accounts of WCL (Wootton Cricket Lim­ited) were submitted into PTI’s account in Pakistan…[the] 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.”

It also mentioned United Bank Limited (UBL) for its failure to report suspicious transactions to the auth­orities concerned.

Subsequently, Imran filed a plea for protective bail, contending that relief was needed so he could “surrender and approach the competent court having [the] jurisdiction to entertain [his] bail petition”.

The hearing

The petition’s hearing began today with Imran’s lawyer, Salman Safdar, presenting his arguments.

He told the court that two other people booked in the same case by the FIA earlier approached a court for bail. However, the female additional sessions judge had recused herself from hearing both cases, he added.

He said they were ready to approach a trial court on the matter but should be granted bail.

At that, Justice Minallah asked him which court should hear the case in his opinion.

“This case belongs to either the banking court or special central court. There is no mention of fake accounts in it,” the lawyer said.

The IHC CJ then enquired about Imran’s absence from the hearing.

“Where is the petitioner?” he asked, to which Imran’s lawyer, Salman Safdar replied: “If the court wants, he (Imran) would appear before it.”

The lawyer said Imran could not attend the hearing due to “extraordinary circumstances”.

At that, Justice Minallah suggested Imran come by 3pm. Imran’s lawyer, however, said 3pm would be too late and suggested that the PTI chief could reach court within half-an-hour.

“Alright, he may come by then,” the judge replied.

He also directed authorities not to “harass” Imran and that the PTI chief should not be arrested until he appeared before the court.

The hearing was then suspended for a while until Imran reached.

When the hearing resumed, Justice Minallah noted that the case was lodged by the FIA. Which court would hear it, he enquired.

Special Attorney General Munawwar Iqbal Dogal replied that a special court should hear the case.

“The special court deals with the sections included in the case,” he said.

Following that, Justice Minallah initially approved the bail till October 17 but later extended the bail period by a day at the request of Imran’s lawyer.

The lawyer told the IHC CJ that similar cases had been registered in Lahore and Karachi. He added that by-elections were also scheduled in the coming days and sought an exemption for Imran’s appearance before the court on Monday.

He requested the court to grant the bail till October 18.

Justice Minallah accepted his request and directed Imran to submit surety bonds worth Rs5,000.

Announcing the decision, he remarked that if the issue of the court’s jurisdiction is not resolved, it would be looked into.

Imran’s lawyer assured him that if the issue was resolved, they would approach the relevant court.

Before the hearing commenced, the assistant court registrar had raised three objections to Imran’s plea for protective bail but they were ignored by the IHC.

The assistant registrar had pointed out that Imran had not undergone a biometric test, the copy of the FIR attached to the plea was not attested and that the petitioner was supposed to approach a trial court before filing a petition in the high court.

Imran criticises CEC

Speaking to reporters outside the court ahead of the hearing, Imran insisted that the PTI was the only party that practised “legal political fundraising” and termed the funding raised by other political parties “bogus”.

He also accused Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja of not bringing to light the funding details of other parties. “He is like their family member and a biased man,” Imran alleged.

The PTI chief claimed that the ECP chief was not revealing funding details of other parties in order to prevent the nation from distinguishing between “legal and illegal [funding]”.

When he was asked what if he was not granted bail, he replied: “I will go to jail then.”

He also termed the “recording of phone [conversations] and releasing [audios]” a national security concern.

“What can be a bigger national security [concern],” he remarked, adding that releasing audio tapes was a crime and that was why he was approaching the court on the matter.

The FIR

The FIR over alleged false affidavits, lodged by the FIA in Islamabad, includes sections 420, 468, 471, 477-A, and 109 read with sections 5 and 23 of the Foreign Exchange Regu­la­tion Act 1947.

The case has been registered against Imran and other PTI leaders.

According to the FIR, the Abraaj owner transferred $2,121,500 of his ‘ill-gotten’ money to a PTI account in the UBL. The signatories of the UBL account included Imran Khan, Saifullah Nyazee among other PTI leaders.

“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”.

On Oct 5, two FIRs were registered by FIA in Lahore and Karachi. Both of them shared the same charges — sections 420 and 109 being common to all the FIRs — against the PTI leadership.

The FIR in Lahore accused Mr Naqvi, Mr Shafi, Mr Zaman, Manzoor Ahmed Cha­udhry, Mubashir Ahmed, the management of Habib Bank Limited, and the PTI leadership of fraud. While the FIR registered in Karachi pointed out that Mr Naqvi was the major beneficiary of foreign funding and he received Foreign Tele­gra­phic Transfers (FTTs) from Abraaj Investment Manage­ment Limited, Aman Foun­dation, Gray Mackenzie Hol­d­ing, Silver Line Holdings, and Strelizia ATF Aman.

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