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Friday Jan 15 2021

PTI foreign funding case: Check records of two US companies, ECP told

  • ECP body asked to scrutinise two US companies in PTI foreign funding case
  • PTI says responsibility lies with agents if funds collected illegally in foreign funding case
  • A founding member of the PTI had filed a case against the Imran Khan-led party in November 2014 claiming financial irregularities in the handling of foreign funding to the tune of nearly $3 million

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) scrutiny committee has been asked to check the official record of two US companies registered on PTI chairperson Imran Khan's instructions in the foreign funding case.

This request was made by petitioner Akbar S Babar’s lawyers Syed Ahmad Hassan Shah and Badar Iqbal Chaudhry in a second meeting of the committee at the Election Commission Secretariat, The News reported Friday.

A day earlier, the PTI said in its latest written response to the ECP's scrutiny committee that if any funds were collected illegally, the responsibility lies with agents.

Read more: Foreign funding case: Agents responsible if funds collected illegally, PTI tells ECP

PTI had earlier denied any illegal funding from the US. Now it claims that if any funds were collected illegally through two US registered companies registered on Imran Khan's written instructions, the responsibility lies with their agents managing the two PTI LLCs 5975 and 6160.

The ECP had recently expressed concern over the delay in scrutiny of the funding-related documents and directed the committee to expedite its work and hold meetings thrice in a week and finish the task as early as possible, which was underway since March 2018, The News reported Thursday.

Sources said that the petitioner's lawyer Syed Ahmad Hassan Shah, assisted by Badar Iqbal Chaudhry, protested at the continued refusal of the committee to share the PTI financial documents with the petitioner.

Shah contended by refusing to share the documents, the committee was in violation of ECP Order, issued on May 30, 2018 that rejected the PTI plea of keeping these documents and the scrutiny process secret.

PTI foreign funding case: ECP's scrutiny body restarts probe

The lawyer emphasised that they were participating in the committee proceedings under protest as denying access to PTI bank statements and other documents was a violation of law and due process.

The scrutiny committee was asked to follow the ECP order, issued on August 27 last year to authenticate every evidence before it. The petitioner’s lawyers emphasised that the committee should not expect them to rubber stamp fake and forged documents, submitted by PTI.

Case background

Akbar S Babar, a founding member of the PTI, had filed a case against the Imran Khan-led party in November 2014 claiming in his petition that there were massive financial irregularities in handling of foreign funding to the tune of nearly $3 million.

PTI foreign funding case: ECP directs scrutiny committee to submit report by August 17

Following the petition, the PTI challenged the ECP orders in the IHC in 2017.

In the same year, the IHC sent back the case to the electoral body to review its jurisdiction once again. In the case, the high court had also declared Babar as member of the ruling PTI.

Later on May 8, 2017, an ECP bench stated that the body had complete jurisdiction over the case.

In March 2018, a scrutiny committee was formed to look into PTI's foreign funding accounts to determine if there was any wrongdoing.

The PTI at multiple times has sought secrecy in the scrutiny and had also approached the ECP, in this regard. However, in October, 2019, the ECP turned down the party's request.

The PTI chief at multiple times has accused the ECP for working for the interests of the opposition in the case.