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Sunday Jul 23 2017

Khawaja Asif questions £150,000 donation by ‘Indian sources’ in London to Imran Khan

LONDON: Defence Minister Khawaja Asif alleged on Saturday that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan had not declared a major donation from “Indian and Jewish sources, facilitated by Zulfi Bukhari” but actually thanked “Zulfi Bukhari and friends” for donating £150,000 to him but it is not clear if he declared this donation to authorities in Pakistan.

This reporter had, on April 16, 2016, covered the arrival of the PTI chief at central London’s upmarket Nobu club but Zulfi Bukhari’s private security did not let anyone enter the premises where around 50 guests had arrived by invitation only.

Invitation cards were sent out by Imran Khan’s friend Zulfi Bukhari, who owns a property business in central London.

Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal’s son-in-law Amit Bhatia, Peter Virdee, Nirbhay Lalvani, and Jamie Reuben, one of the richest Jewish businessmen and property tycoons in the UK, attended the dinner and made donations. Some guests had arrived in diplomatic cars as well.

Imran had tweeted a day after the event: “I want to thank Zulfi Bokhari & his friends in London for contributing £150,000 towards Namal College.” Imran did not mention anything about the “friends” who gave him the money.

But those who donated money took to social media and confirmed attending the dinner and making donations. Speeches were made at the dinner by all donors as well.

One of the donors, Professor Peter Virdee, publicised the details on his website and published pictures of himself and Bhatia with the PTI chief.

Virdee, the subject of criminal fraud investigations, wrote that he was happy to host the event. He thanked “fellow hosts, Mohammed Amersi, Amit Bhatia and Syed Bukhari” for “an evening of wonderful food and delightful company”.

He said on his website: “The select list of just 50 guests raised £150,000 in less than three hours, a fantastic achievement that will help the college continue offering financial assistance to undergraduates from rural and less privileged backgrounds.”

Bhatia tweeted: “Such a great night supporting Imran Khan with my brothers Sayed Bukhara and Peter Virdee”.

Bukhari replied to him: “I love you both! True brother can’t thank you enough!”

It has been already reported that meetings prior to 2014’s sit-in took place in Bukhari’s premises in London, amongst two other places, in what’s now known as the “London Plan”.

Bhatia, a steel billionaire, runs an investment business and is considered close to the Indian government. He played a leading role in arranging a welcome reception for Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visited the UK last year.

Bhatia is also a close friend of Bukhari and Zac Goldsmith. Jewish business tycoon Jamie Ruben and Bukhari have done business ventures together while Bukhari has also arranged fundraising dinners for Goldsmith when he contested against Sadiq Khan in the London mayoral race.

Zulfi Bukhari and Nirbhay Lalvani 

On January 13, 2017, Scotland Yard arrested Virdee at Heathrow airport and accused him of £100m tax scam on a European arrest warrant with a request for extradition to Germany. Prosecutors in Germany allege Virdee was one of the “central organisers” of a criminal enterprise to defraud the authorities of VAT on carbon credits under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. He secured bail after paying £150,000.

The German authorities have formally requested his extradition. Virdee, who claims he has global assets of over £4 billion, is accused of operating a so-called “VAT carousel” scheme on EU carbon credits, under which traders export the credits from one member state to another in order to take advantage of EU VAT rules.

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