Tuesday, January 04, 2022

PTI hid funds worth millions of rupees from ECP: report

PTI says report does not point toward any foreign funding; demands scrutiny of PPP, PML-N and other parties' accounts

Supporters PTI political party attend a celebration rally in Islamabad on July 30, 2017. — Reuters/File
Supporters PTI political party attend a celebration rally in Islamabad on July 30, 2017. — Reuters/File

The ruling PTI hid funds worth millions of rupees from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the report of an ECP scrutiny committee probing the party's funds revealed on Tuesday.

The report stated that the PTI provided "false information" regarding the party's funding to the ECP.

It said that SBP's bank statement revealed that the party had received Rs1.64 billion in funding.

According to the report, the party did not disclose funding worth more than Rs310 million to the ECP.

The scrutiny committee was formed in 2019 to audit foreign funding received by the PTI. The case began in 2014 when the party's founding member, Akbar S Babar, filed it.

Babar alleged that the PTI received funding from illegal sources and that the party was also involved in money laundering, according to Dawn.

Today, in a Twitter post, Babar thanked Allah, saying he stands "vindicated".

The report

The report lays bare the contradictions in details provided by the PTI to the ECP and actual figures.

According to data provided to the committee by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), PTI has 26 bank accounts.

From 2008 to 2013, PTI disclosed funds worth Rs1.33 billion to the ECP, whereas a report by the SBP shows the actual amount to be Rs1.64bn, the report said.

PTI failed to disclose details of three banks in documentation provided to the ECP, it added.

It stated that around 1,414 companies in Pakistan, 47 foreign companies and 119 potential companies provided funds to PTI.

PTI received $2.3448 million in funding from the US, but the scrutiny committee couldn’t obtain access to the party's US bank accounts, the report said.

Of those to have contributed these funds were 4,755 Pakistanis, 41 non-Pakistanis and 230 foreign companies.

Besides the US, the PTI obtained funds from Dubai, UK, Europe, Denmark, Japan, Canada, Australia and several other countries.

A private bank provided details to SBP regarding $2.2 million funds being received by the PTI from Dubai, however, the scrutiny committee couldn’t get further details.

It was also unable to obtain information related to the funds received from the UK and Europe.

Due to a lack of information, the committee's report said that it cannot comment on the source of the funding from any of the countries.

The firm that audited the PTI's accounts based their reports on the same information for five years, the report noted, adding that the PTI changed the firm in the last year but the report's contents remained the same.

The report said that the committee arrived at the conclusion that there is a contradiction in the audit reports and the PTI's bank statements.

The committee sent the PTI a questionnaire on the funding received from the US and other countries but obtained no clear response, it added.

'No question of foreign funding'

Meanwhile, in a post-cabinet meeting press conference, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said that according to the report "there is no question of foreign funding", as he demanded scrutiny of the accounts of the PML-N, PPP and all other political parties.

"The report [of the ECP scrutiny committee] does not point towards foreign funding [...] it has been decided that there is no case of foreign funding," the information minister said.

He demanded the election commission put the facts of the foreign funding case before the nation, so the people can themselves analyse which party is raising funds through which means.

'PTI collects funds transparently'

Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar earlier in the day said PTI had the "most transparent" process of receiving funds as everything was documented.

Talking to journalists outside the ECP office in Islamabad, the minister said scrutinising bank accounts related to foreign funding of political parties was the ECP's job.

However, he stressed that the commission must do its work in the most transparent and impartial way.

"If ECP accomplishes its work transparently and impartially, it would have a very positive impact on Pakistan's politics," he said.

The federal minister said scrutiny committees for bank accounts of PPP and PML-N had also been formed, and the ECP should also review reports prepared for those parties' bank accounts.

"There are a large number of secret accounts of the PPP and PML-N in addition to other accounts opened in the names of fake persons," the federal minister said.

— Additional input from APP